University of Hawai'i Press
  • The New Race Consciousness: Race, Nation, and Empire in American Culture, 1910–1925*

In the good old days white people derived their knowledge of what Negroes were doing from those Negroes who were nearest to them, generally their own selected exponents of Negro activity or of their white point of view....Today the white world is vaguely, but disquietingly, aware that Negroes are awake, different, and perplexingly uncertain.

Hubert H. Harrison,
“The New Race Consciousness” (1920)

For three days in late July 1911, despite the “sweltering heat of midsummer,” thousands gathered in London for the First Universal Races Congress. W. E. B. Du Bois, editor of Crisis magazine (the organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP]), and a leading advocate of civil rights for the “American Negro,” attended the congress as a correspondent and was elected co-secretary of the American delegation. The Races Congress, Du Bois hoped, would provide an excellent forum in which to rebut the claims made by Booker T. Washington during his tour of England in 1910. To the great consternation of Du Bois and the fledgling NAACP, Washington’s [End Page 307] ameliorative approach to race problems had won great acclaim in Britain, and the Crisis editor subsequently embarked on a breathtaking series of lectures in England designed to steal support away from the Tuskeegee machine. The divisive political thrust of Du Bois’s trip to England was, however, undermined by the congenial ethos surrounding the Races Congress. A unity of purpose, it seemed, had mitigated any chance for public acrimony over “the Negro problem” in America. Indeed, after a warm and cordial discussion with Du Bois in London, Washington’s man-on-the-spot, R. R. Moton, concluded that Du Bois’s participation in the event marked no real threat to “the Wizard’s” reputation or influence. 1

Later, remembering the friendly spirit of the event and the overwhelming body of social scientific work presented, Du Bois conceived of the Races Congress as “a meeting of widely separated men, as a reunion of East and West, as a glance across the color line or as a sort of World Grievance Committee.” 2 Without regard for the suffocating heat of London, or indeed for the hints of war in Europe, Du Bois marked the First Universal Races Congress as an event of profound significance for those “fifty different races” representing “fifty countries” who participated. “When fifty races look each other in the eye, face to face,” wrote Du Bois, “there rises a new conception of humanity and its the continual meeting of strangers comes gradual illumination.” 3 Gathered in the hallowed halls of the Imperial Institute, the several thousand representatives of “fifty different races”—some came from India and Africa, but most represented the various imperial powers—spoke earnestly of the need for greater benevolence, faith, and, perhaps more important, patience in the “burden” of uplift and civilizing. Curiously, Du Bois barely noticed the overwhelming celebration of empire present at the Congress, and he shared none of the disgust felt by fellow NAACP member Mary White Ovington, at the surprising absence of anti-imperialist agitation. 4

The evasion of critical discourse on empire was partly a logical [End Page 308] result of the “liberal internationalism” of the Universal Races Congress —an internationalism “rooted in the ethical concern to transcend national the promotion of a world order that could secure the perpetuation of peace”—and, one might add, the continued profitability of imperialism. 5 The first stirrings of anticolonialism were, of course, present at the congress in more than a few papers and in the tangible connections made between colonial activists during the course of the event. In the comparative context of the Races Congress, the Egyptian national and strident Pan-Africanist Dusé Mohamed Ali and the South African activist John Tengo Jabavu, together with other nationalist leaders from India, Egypt, and Haiti, forged ideological ties in support of nascent anticolonialism and in direct opposition to the general thrust of the congress. 6 Such connections, however, were masked by the incorporative “liberal” atmosphere of the congress—a subtly coercive and consensual liberalism that manifested itself in the prominent roles accorded to radical figures like Du Bois, Dusé Mohamed Ali, and the young Oxford-educated lawyer Mohandas Ghandi, and in the direct participation of such notable Progressive thinkers as Felix Adler, John Hobson, and Gustav Spiller. In Du Bois’s case, the Crisis editor’s lifelong belief that cosmopolitan Europe was bereft of the provincial racial hostilities of the United States, together with his ego-inflating role at the congress, his faith in social science, and a series of sublimely romantic evenings in London, led him to speak lovingly of the Universal Races Congress for the rest of his life. 7

By the end of the Great War the “Irish question” had become a popular obsession in the United States, and Du Bois’s political rhetoric was increasingly peppered with a strident anticolonialism. During and after the peace conference, black radicalism exploded on the national and international scenes in the form of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Pan-African Congresses, the African Blood Brotherhood, and other likeminded organizations and movements. Marcus Garvey, Du Bois, and many other African American [End Page 309] political figures competed for the mantle of “Negro leader,” and in the process added the threat of economic, social, and cultural revolution to black political culture. The most striking aspect of this new radicalism was the growing strength of diasporic sentiments in the numerous editorials, lengthy correspondence, and growing list of publications that embodied the titanic struggle between Garvey and Du Bois, a sentiment captured perfectly in the phrase Du Bois chose as the title of his contribution to Alain Locke’s The New Negro: “The Negro Mind Reaches Out.” Du Bois and Garvey may have clashed over the means and ends of New Negro politics, but they increasingly spoke of racial difference using the same set of symbols and ideas.

This essay, part of a cultural history of racial classification in the United States, focuses on the way “race” was spoken and symbolized in Irish American and African American anticolonialisms during the late Progressive era. I argue that Irish American nationalism was part of a Romantic view of the world—a weltanschauung in which there were twenty, thirty, or even fifty races all progressing toward some unique destiny and possessing peculiar race traits. Postwar African American radicals, despite drawing connections between their own struggle and that of the Irish, increasingly saw no racial difference between Anglo-Saxons and Irish; both were seen as members of a singular “white race.” This “New Race Consciousness,” which divided the world racially into five groups according to “color,” not nationality, grew out of the migration of “the Negro” into the urban North of the United States, the concomitant emergence of African American radicalism, the initial outburst of anticolonialism around the world, and America’s new role in an intensifying world economic system. These factors were themselves reflected in the New Negro movement of the postwar era, as well as in the Nordic vogue that swept across the urban North during the same period.

Any attempt to unravel the importance of anticolonialism to African Americans and Irish Americans must consider “the world’s pasts as...a braid of intertwined histories” and emphasize the importance of “cross-cultural connections.” 8 So much of “American history” is either nationalist or exceptionalist in spirit, and only rarely does an [End Page 310] American historian approach his or her topic with faith that the project will not reveal just national peculiarities, but also global similarities, connections, and dynamics. By discussing the occasional solidarity expressed by Irish Americans and African Americans, by being aware of the global anticolonial ties between various subject populations around the world, and by developing an interest in an evolving world economic system, I shall emphasize rarely discussed patterns of global interconnectedness—multi-leveled experiences—in the history of the United States. 9

A global perspective is of equal, if not paramount, importance in the history of racial classification. Race, after all, is not just a “linguistic marker for difference,” but also a world historical comparative framework. 10 A history of the idea of racial difference cannot simply mark and then criticize the binary distinctions that are part of racial discourse (civilized/savage, manly/unmanly), it must also account for the real and imagined connections between the debates that electrified the world in the early twentieth century, debates over “white supremacy,” “the Yellow peril,” “the darker peoples,” and “the Negro.” What sense can possibly be made of “Anglo-Saxonism” if we fail to recognize it as historical chauvinism, if we cannot see in its ardent celebration of “Anglo-Saxon civilization” and “individualism” a world historical state of mind? How can we understand Madison Grant’s Passing of the Great Race without an awareness of changes in the world economy, which brought millions of Chinese laborers and Eastern European peasants to the New World, and not just to the United States? How can we dissect Frederick Jackson Turner’s writing on “the frontier,” or Teddy Roosevelt’s musings on the same, without juxtaposing—as they did implicitly and explicitly—the presumption of [End Page 311] American “vigor” and “manliness” against European fears of degeneration and overcivilization? A cultural history of racial classification—even in the peculiar American context—simply must have a global perspective if it is to avoid the pitfalls of American exceptionalism.

Placing American history in a global perspective should, however, do more than reveal how empire, colonization, and race are made on both sides of the Atlantic. In this particular case, the period between the two world wars was the formative period of what publisher Henry Luce called “the American century.” Patterns of world domination that one finds in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were first formed in the aftermath of the Great War and looked quite different than those of the great British Empire. If Cold War historians have seen the Truman Doctrine as a significant marker of when, exactly, the sun began to set on the British empire and to rise on the American century, I would suggest that this profound shift in world history began much earlier, and that changes in the American discourse of race would alter the course of subsequent global development. Whereas so much of the British empire’s justification for empire rested upon an older logic of racial difference—a logic in which Boer and Celt were as distinct from Anglo-Saxon as Negro and Hindu—the insidiously subtle workings of post-Great War American “soft” imperialism were decidedly color-coded. White, Brown, Yellow, and Black were the four colors of a new American map of the world. This transformation of American racial discourse into a simplistic, color-coded system was an event of deep and lasting global significance, as events in the latter half of the twentieth century have revealed.

If debates over “the Irish question” and agitation surrounding “the Negro problem” made those two issues benchmarks for other wartime nationalist organizations in the United States, race and racial difference soon set Irish American and African American nationalisms apart. During the war Irish American nationalists drew upon over fifty years of scientific discourse about “the Celt” to inspire faith in a transatlantic racial community predicated on the belief that the Irish and the Anglo-Saxon were biologically different. This racialized nationalism rested upon a broader belief that there were many white races, all of them biologically and historically distinct from each other, and that each white race possessed a national, world historical destiny. Irish nationalism, then, derived its racialized qualities from an older, Romantic sense of racial difference in which “race,” “nation,” and “folk” were all loosely, but imprecisely, connected in history and biology. “We use the term ‘race’ in a rather loose and elastic sense,” [End Page 312] intoned economist John Commons, “[and] Mankind in general has been divided into three and again into five great racial stocks, and one of these represented among us by ten or more subdivisions which we also term races.” 11

If, however, the “fundamental problem of the twentieth century” for the Irish was the conflict of the white races, for New Negro radicals, for Nordic voguers, and increasingly for American culture writ large, that “problem” was quite different. As journalist Lothrop Stoddard put it in 1914, “the world-wide struggle between the primary races of mankind—the ‘conflict of color,’ as it has happily been termed—bids fair to be the fundamental problem of the twentieth century.” 12 In privileging “the conflict of color,” Stoddard, Hubert Harrison, Garvey, Du Bois, and others, despite their differing political views, pulled the rug out from under Irish American nationalists. As the Great War began, a razor-thin line kept the Irish from being members of the white race. With the postwar dawning of a new sense of race and the awakening of worldwide anticolonialism partly based in New York, that line was quickly erased. The “looseness” and “elasticity” of the term race was soon replaced by a more streamlined taxonomy of races—roughly five instead of fifty, and organized around color rather than national boundaries. Du Bois named this reorganization of racial discourse “the discovery of personal whiteness among the world’s peoples,” and New Negro radical Hubert H. Harrison termed it “the New Race Consciousness.” 13 The decidedly original notion that “the race problem” was simply a “conflict of color” and not a product of national competition, or that only whiteness and blackness and not Anglo-Saxonism and Irishness marked racial difference, quickly became an integral part of American political culture. The language of Du Bois’s political protest—and New Negro protest more generally—was to reflect this change in racial thinking, as early attacks on “perfidious Albion” were replaced by the growing sense that Britain, America, France, Germany, the Firestone Rubber Company, the U.S. Marines, certain banks in Manhattan, and the United Fruit Company were all part of an economically driven “white world supremacy.” [End Page 313]

To Save the Soul of Ireland

“Irish-American nationalism,” suggests historian Thomas Brown, “had its origins in loneliness, poverty, and prejudice,” which “lifted the Irishman out of ‘the littleness of countyism’ into the broad feeling of nationalism.” 14 Coming from a predominantly agrarian and rural Irish countryside, Irish emigrants to America had at first been shocked at the increasingly modern economic life of the urban United States. Settling in major cities meant becoming industrial laborers, a task for which the agrarian Irish were poorly suited. Nevertheless, Irish labor quickly became prominent in mining, in factory work, and in unspecialized labor. Tight-knit Irish communities formed in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Butte, and San Francisco. Missing their homeland and collectively uncomfortable with the grind of a modern industrial America, the Irish in America took comfort in nationalism and constructed a shared belief in their unwilling exile from Ireland. That shared belief ultimately gave grass-roots nationalism in the United States a remarkable strength and longevity.

In the 1880s, when blight and bad weather forced hundreds of thousands of Irish to head off to the United States during the great “second wave” of migration (over 2 million arrived between 1870 and 1920), the “dangerous” Clan na Gael and other less radical nationalist organizations, such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, were able to greet immigrants newly arrived in the cold, industrializing world of urban America with the warm blanket of national sympathies. Settling predominantly in northern urban centers, the Irish immigrants were quickly assimilated into the Anglophobic world of the American Irish, a world in which “reorganized Fenianism”—as John Devoy, a former Fenian, termed it —was increasingly less a small subversive movement centered on the Clan and more a popularly shared religion. In this context, Irish American leaders often invoked the “sea-divided Gael” to emphasize a shared sense of “Irishness” in a ruthlessly competitive and individualistic America, to claim cultural authority, and to mask growing socioeconomic divisions. “The nationalist rhetoric of emigration-as-exile,” suggests Kerby Miller, “obscured internal differences by implying that all Irish-Americans shared similar, externally imposed reasons [End Page 314] for immigration . . . [while] the demands of Irish-American nationalists to remain loyal to ‘the motherland’ . . . coincided with the needs of the Irish and Irish immigrant family and imposed strong communal pressures for ethnic solidarity and conformity on ambitious or assimilation-minded individuals.” 15 By the early 1900s, as Miller’s superb work reveals, Irish American nationalism drew most of its impressive strength from the “homesickness and discontent” of the millions of working-class Irish men and women in American cities. 16

On the eve of the Great War, the growing belief that the Irish had been “Americanized” and had lost their racial faith led a small handful of Irish American nationalists to plan an Irish Race Convention. Race had been a fundamental component of Irish nationalism in America and Ireland since the 1840s. With the arrival of the famine Irish in the 1840s, the easy, uncomplicated whiteness of the power-wielding, white northeastern populace shattered, leading quickly to prolonged outbursts of Know-Nothingism and, more important, scientific Anglo-Saxonism. Spurred on by the emergence of Fenianism and Darwinism, Anglo-Saxonism soon produced a body of knowledge about the supposedly glorious world historical destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race and the bestial nature of those members of the Celtic race then clustered together in huddled masses in New York, Boston, and the west of Ireland. The Celt’s place in evolution (the “missing link” between the ape and the Negro) and in history was a matter of great scientific debate in both New York and London, and popular images of the Irish as pug-nosed, low-browed beasts abounded. 17 Such an interpretation [End Page 315] of Irishness served to further British imperialism and its Anglomaniac American supporters; civilization, they would say, was best represented by the humane and benevolent Anglo-Saxon, stalwart keeper of the British empire.

This depiction of the monstrous Celt was accompanied by deeply gendered representations of Irish men as “Paddys” (low-browed, subversive, shiftless, highly emotional, and illogical) and Irish women as “Bridgets” (wage-earning, manly, and humorously forgetful and clumsy), which, in turn, underscored British political concerns about Ireland. 18 The diasporic “culture of exile” developed by turn-of-the-century famine emigrants was thus, in part, predicated on the shared memories of the genocidal famine and the “sacrifice” of Irish manhood against the hard, cold Anglo-Saxon—memories made all the more fresh by the virulent Anglo-Saxonist scientific discourse on the Celt. When the “young manhood” of Ireland met with violence, or worse, at the hands of the English, or when the American Protective Association launched its “No Irish Need Apply” program in the 1900s, Gaelic American nationalists—much like their counterparts in Ireland—responded by castigating the pervasive “gospel of Anglo-Saxon supremacy” and experienced a corresponding resurgence of popular racial faith and nationalist passion. 19 If, moreover, there was little potential for interracial labor radicalism to develop among working-class Irish Americans, racialized nationalism proved quite able to connect the struggle to “save the soul of Ireland” with other protest movements, such as the African American fight against Jim Crow. 20

Race in America, however, was never simply a matter of Anglo-Saxons and Celts. If Anglo-Saxonism and Celticism were central components [End Page 316] of Irish nationalism, British imperialism, and Romantic racialism, the American strain of both was complicated by domestic factors. As David Roediger and Eric Lott have suggested, whiteness was an integral part of American popular culture, and claims to racial privilege often worked to offset the troubling lack of self-mastery in industrializing America; both Lott and Roediger discuss the Irish in particular and working-class Americans generally, and both conclude that class formation and race consciousness went hand in hand. 21 The Irish in America, despite criticisms from the Irish in Ireland, attempted to leap directly from the “mudsill” to civilization by clinging to whiteness in well-publicized violent assaults against the small free black communities in the North and by representing blackness—and slavery—as the antithesis of modern urbanity in minstrel shows and song lyrics. Such Negrophobia made nationalist sympathy between the Irish and the Negro difficult, if not impossible, to maintain over the long haul, and the Irish continued to be prominently represented in race riots through the 1920s. Whiteness and Irishness thus complicated each other in nationalist discourse. With recurring waves of Irish immigrants, and with Anglo-Saxonism serving as the bedrock of Victorian political culture, imperial expansion, and Anglo-American rapprochement, the Irish could only be whitened so far, leaving them somewhere “between whiteness and Anglo-Saxondom.” So long as the racial faith of Anglo-Saxonism and Irish American nationalism remained solid, any and all attempts at the complete and total assimilation, Americanization, and whitening of the Irish race were doomed to fail. 22

The ostensible reason for the wartime Race Conventions was that the powerful Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond, a man [End Page 317] universally detested in “physical force”—or radical separatist—circles, was demanding control of the Volunteers, the paramilitary group formed earlier by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). By the start of the war, with Redmond supporting the Allied cause—and with the Clan and the IRB in constant contact during the war with German officials and seeking military aid 23 —Redmond made the startling claim that “95 percent of the Irish Race in America” supported his position on the war and home rule, and then, amazingly, urged the Volunteers to fight on behalf of England in the war. 24 A more direct threat to Irish manhood could not possibly have been envisioned; “[a positive] response to [Redmond’s] appeal,” intoned Robert Ford, invoking the idea of “race suicide,” “would simply mean the complete wiping out of the remnant of our race.” 25

While the Irish in Ireland feared that “the race” would be exterminated in the war, the Irish in America waged a battle for the hearts and minds of second-generation immigrants. In addition to fears of “Irish youths...slaughtered on European battlefields,” Irish American nationalists grappled with the growing conviction in some circles that, as playwright Padraic Colum put it, “there is no Irish race in America nor anywhere outside of Ireland.” 26 In Ireland, many had slowly come to believe that Americanization programs had forced the Irish to “let go” of their “racial distinctiveness”: “What is an American Gael?” remarked George Bernard Shaw in an interview. “I have asked professors of ethnology in vain.” 27 If the comments of acerbic cultural critics in Ireland were not bad enough, more than a few Americans also began to question what claim the Irish anywhere had to racial distinctiveness. Sinclair Kennedy, for instance, took Henry Cabot Lodge’s depiction of the Irish in America as “honorary Anglo-Saxons” one step further by describing them as merely “disgruntled Anglo-Saxons.” Madison Grant’s 1916 page-turner, The Passing of the Great Race, one [End Page 318] of the most popular books of the 1910s and early 1920s, argued that only the Irish in the far west of Ireland were “non-Nordic” and of the “middle Palaeolithic race”; all those in America were, quite simply, white Nordics. And Grant, unlike Kennedy, glided over the ins and outs of the assimilation of the Irish to suggest that they had always already been biologically Nordic and racially white.

Nor was popular science the only factor involved in the increasing whiteness of the Irish in America. The economic parity achieved by most Irish communities in the 1910s and the resultant softening and gradual elimination of racialized representations of the Irish took a toll on nationalist discourse. 28 Indeed, the general sense of national reconciliation that grew in the 1910s and culminated in the election of Woodrow Wilson—a southerner—as president in 1912 masked the regionally different economies of racial difference. This national reconciliation, political scientist Michael Paul Rogin has argued, emerges clearly in D. W. Griffith’s Negrophobic and nationalistic film The Birth of a Nation and directly involves the assimilation of European immigrants. “As blacks became the sign of negative American identity,” writes Rogin, “Progressives took immigrants to the national bosom.” 29 As the war continued and as consumer culture matured, “the Negro” became a national obsession. In amusement parks, saloons, baseball parks, and movie palaces—all of them segregated—“the Negro” was overrepresented in parodic form, and, as David Nasaw writes, “to the extent that racial distinctions were exaggerated on stage...distinctions among ‘whites’ in the audience could be muted.” 30

Finally, Irish American nationalists mounted their defense of Irishness and their attack on Anglo-Saxonism and the British empire in the face of the rapid wartime growth of the American state and the attendant growth of state patriotism. The Great War came at the tail end of the Progressive era, a diffuse, middle-class “moment” committed [End Page 319] to the ethical and moral reformation of American capitalism. During World War I this reformist spirit merged with the necessities of war to engender several patriotic societies and institutions, as well as to encourage the growth of certain branches of government. The Committee on Public Information (the Creel Committee), for instance, developed a sophisticated network of public speakers and devoted much time to the endless proliferation and diffusion of “100 Percent American” propaganda. With nonofficial nationalisms increasingly viewed as traitorous and, indeed, dangerous, the military and naval intelligence bureaus grew exponentially and began investigating certain “subversive” groups, paying particular attention to German American, Indian American, and Irish American nationalists, as well as to the Anglophobic ties that bound these groups together. Hyper-patriotic organizations, such as the American Protective League and the American Defense Society, flourished during and after the war and sent a constant stream of reports to agencies of the official, “100 Percent American” nationalism. Clan na Gael leader Daniel Cohalan, for one, was suspected of near-treason after some damning correspondence was found in the German foreign office (the infamous Von Igel affair), and the Gaelic American was banned from the mails for attacking Woodrow Wilson. Irish American nationalists drew their passion from this repressive atmosphere; surveillance and attempted control, it was thought, marked the maturity, or dangerous qualities, of subversive nationalisms. 31

To navigate these troubled waters, Irish American nationalists often spoke more about Irishness than about whiteness, emphasizing the difference between Anglo-Saxons and Celts. Here, the new vision of a harmonious, romantically racialized society known as cultural pluralism would prove invaluable. Pluralism emerged just before the Great [End Page 320] War as an alternative to the idea of America as a “melting pot” in which the racial cultures and habits of immigrants were boiled away, leaving only “Americans.” By the beginning of the war, the “younger generation” of American intellectuals, led by Harvard graduate Horace Kallen, had begun to conceive of a romantically racialized, pluralistic America that was “a multiplicity in a unity, an orchestration of mankind.” 32 This was a vision of social harmony predicated not on the explosive celebration of whiteness, but rather on the difference between the Irish, the Anglo-Saxon, the Jew, and the Teuton. Instead of a melting pot, then, America was to be a concert of racially distinct groups, with the peculiar “genius” of each race contributing to the larger project of American civilization; the question of whiteness could be left aside. Attempts to reconstruct the Irish race thus went hand in hand with an outrageous defense of “the little hyphen that unites in holy friendship the name of Ireland and the name of America.” 33

With race, or Irishness, an integral part of Irish American patriotism, journalists, orators, and political figures of nationalist stripe rewrote American history. They argued that there were Celts on board Columbus’s ships, insisted that Ireland had been the bastion of “civilization” during the Dark Ages, provided “scientific evidence” that the Irish were prominently represented in the American Revolution, documented that George Washington had loved the cause of Irish independence, and, finally, described the food served at the first Puritan Thanksgiving dinner as typical Irish fare. 34 At each step of the way, the peculiar racial genius of the Irish had assured the continued progress of American civilization. The Irish, it was assumed, were a spiritual race, capable of seeing fairies and sprites; the loss of this capability in an [End Page 321] industrializing, increasingly homogenized America was, of course, tragic. 35 Above all, the Irish were “the fighting race” and an important masculine component of American military history. The emphasis on the peculiar martial qualities of the Celt was most often invoked after the formation of the Volunteers and in anticipation of the spectacular Easter Rising, but it could also emerge in discussions of the Irish contribution to the American war effort in Europe. The War Department, looking for volunteers to chase down Pancho Villa, placed advertisements in Irish American weeklies depicting an Uncle Sam desperately in need of “the fighting race.” 36 Sacrifice and martyrdom emerged in Irish American rhetoric as racially regenerative experiences. “No men of any race,” suggested Daniel Cohalan, “have shed their blood more freely, or even recklessly, than have the men of our breed.” 37

Coming as it did in the midst of the Great War, the Easter Rising of 1916 thus took place in a context deliberately primed for both success and failure. The first Irish Race Convention, planned and organized by “physical force” nationalists in America who were aware of the rising planned for Easter weekend, had been held in Manhattan a few months before the Rising and had deliberately evoked images of heroic Irish manhood and steadfast, supportive Irish womanhood in anticipation of the rebellion. In Dublin small bands of IRB men and Volunteers took possession of a few poorly chosen sites, and Patrick Pearse, along with Tom Clarke, socialist agitator James Connolly, and others, took the massive neoclassical General Post Office as a headquarters. When the British finally came, it was not to wage war against a “civilized” enemy, but rather to suppress an uncivil racial rebellion. That suppression tore apart Dublin and resulted in the execution of nearly all of the leaders of the Rising. Indeed, there is some indication that Pearse and the others may have known from the start that the Rising was doomed and have chosen masculine racial sacrifice as the means to purify the soul of Ireland. 38 In the aftermath of the Rising, nationalism in Ireland took off—gaining the popular support that [End Page 322] resulted in the Sinn Fein electoral victories of 1917. Nationalists in America, by way of contrast, were soon confronted with American entry into the war raging in Europe and were forced, as John Devoy put it, “to use the soft pedal.” 39

The “Irishness” of the Celt in America thus continued to hang in the balance until the war was over and the urgency of state patriotism had subsided. Once the gaze of “100 Percenters” had been turned toward communism and the postwar “Red Menace,” the conservative stripe of Irish American nationalism—which had shied away from socialism or communism in the twentieth century—made the Celt seem friendly, or even harmless, in comparison to other “alien” groups. Nor were Irish Americans able to speak in uniform voice, for the intrawar cohesion provided by Cohalan and Devoy dissolved with the arrival of the provisional president of Ireland, Eamon De Valera, in 1919. DeValera, a gaunt former mathematics instructor and one of the few surviving leaders of the Rising in 1916, had escaped from a British prison and made his way secretly to America on board a tramp steamer. Once in the United States, the Irish president spoke constantly on the need for American support and the insistence of the Irish people on independence, and he opened another bitter debate on the Americanization of the Irish. A split soon developed between leaders of the Irish in America—John Devoy and Daniel Cohalan in particular—and De Valera over the best way to spend the funds raised by the third Irish Race Convention (held in 1919 in Philadelphia) and over the role of Irish American nationalists in Irish politics. De Valera claimed that he “alone” was “answerable to the Irish people,” and asked where Cohalan stood on the matter; Cohalan replied, “I am in this work as an American whose first and only loyalty is to my own country.” His reply was reprinted nationally in circulars of the Friends of Irish Freedom (FOIF) and in Gaelic American editorials, and reflected the ultimate paradox of pluralism. 40 De Valera put “race first”; Cohalan, the supposed [End Page 323] leader of the Irish race in America, used the “soft pedal” and put America first.

After the war, when Wilsonian idealism, fears that Western civilization was collapsing, the lure and loathing of Bolshevism, and the general thrust of the peace conference encouraged widespread anticolonial agitation, the “Irish race” once again celebrated its whiteness. Postwar discussions of the Irish as a “white race” wronged took place within the context of a larger attack on British policy in Ireland, India, and Egypt. 41 And when the time came to argue Ireland’s case before the court of world opinion after the war, Irish nationalists in America practically leaped to claim the penultimate gift of whiteness, the right to self-government, in their struggle against the British empire. From late 1918 onward, it was thus a matter of course to find in the rhetoric of the Clan na Gael and the FOIF (the mass organization created after the first Race Convention to mobilize support for Ireland) references to the Irish as “the only white race in slavery” or, better still, as “the only white race in America whose homeland remains subject to a foreign power.” 42 When Irish Americans spoke of whiteness and placed their own struggle in a global, anticolonial context, they moved away from the understanding of their struggle as a “battle of two civilizations,” one Anglo-Saxon and one Gaelic. Invoking whiteness to differentiate between the “Hindoo” and the Celt, or between the struggle for Ireland’s freedom and the struggle for Indian independence, postwar Irish American nationalism was thus a willing participant in the sweeping return of whiteness and the reemergence of the complicated balancing act between whiteness and Irishness. And given the increasing centrality of “absolute whiteness” in science and popular culture, it continued to be increasingly difficult to conceive of the Irish in America as racially distinct from the Anglo-Saxon.

The twists and turns of postwar Irish American nationalism and the resurgence of “whiteness” in its rhetoric did not at first undercut the emergence of a potentially revolutionary anticolonial movement in the United States. On the night of 2 August 1920, in the midst of a massive, thirty-day Universal Negro Improvement Association [End Page 324] (UNIA) convention in Manhattan, Marcus Garvey, “provisional president of Africa,” ascended the platform at Madison Square Garden and spoke to a crowd of twenty-five thousand. Greeted by a standing ovation and dressed in a “gown of purple, green, and gold,” Garvey had to wait nearly five minutes before quiet descended and his words could be heard. “I hold in my hand,” Garvey bellowed to the crowd, “a telegram to be sent to Edmund De Valera, President of the Irish Republic.” He then proceeded to read the telegram aloud: “25,000 Negro delegates assembled in Madison Square Garden in mass convention, representing 400,000,000 Negroes of the world, send you greetings as President of the Irish Republic. Please accept the sympathy of Negroes of the world for your cause. We believe Ireland should be free even as Africa shall be free for the Negroes of the world. . . . Keep up the fight for a free Ireland.” At the conclusion of the telegram, the UNIA delegates “shook the big building” with an extended burst of applause. “We new negroes,” Garvey continued, “we men who have returned from this war, will dispute every inch of the way until we win.” When the Times announced the next day that the “Cheering Negroes” gathered in the Garden had sent “Sympathy To [the] Irish,” the deeper implications of the event were revealed: Garvey, his movement now ostensibly allied with one of the most powerful subversive forces in world politics, and agitating against the already shaken foundation of civilization—the British empire—was very, very dangerous. 43

While Garvey connected his diasporic protest to that of the Irish during the summer and fall of 1921, the lord mayor of Cork, Terrence MacSwiney, also a Gaelic revivalist and editor of Fianna Fail, died slowly in Brixton prison after having been arrested by British authorities in August at what was thought to be a “Republican Court.” MacSwiney’s subsequent hunger strike—and the refusal of British authorities to be flexible in the face of that long and painful act of resistance —brought renewed international attention to the agonizingly slow and apocalyptically violent birth of the Irish republic. For the length of that hunger strike, all those interested in the “Irish question” spoke of MacSwiney’s protracted death as the human embodiment of the tragic state of affairs in Ireland, a heated situation that had then just recently exploded into the widespread guerrilla strife of the Anglo-Irish [End Page 325] war. When he finally died on 24 October 1921—seventy-four days into his hunger strike—MacSwiney quickly entered the pantheon of Irish martyrs, joining eighteenth-century Christ-figure Robert Emmet and the poets and dreamers of the Easter Rising of 1916. After a solemnly ritualized and well-publicized funeral laid MacSwiney to rest, the ruthless war against “perfidious Albion” grew even hotter, more fanatical, and hopelessly bloody.

Much like the furious response to Irish parliamentarian John Redmond’s “treacherous” support of the English war effort four years earlier, MacSwiney’s hunger strike reinvigorated Gaelic-American nationalism in the United States. In 1920 the political powers of Cohalan and Devoy may have been neutralized by the all-too-public dispute with De Valera, but other organizations picked up the slack and kept the “fight for Irish freedom” in the minds and hearts of Manhattan’s social justice advocates. On the New York docks that August, the American Women’s Pickets for the Enforcement of America’s War Aims—an Irish American group loosely affiliated with Cohalan’s Friends of Irish Freedom—organized several massive strikes against British shipping lines, eliciting impressive support from the New York Irish and even a few sympathy strikes in Boston, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. On Friday, 27 August 1920, with MacSwiney slowly failing, fifteen hundred Irish American longshoremen tossed aside the concerns of their union leadership and simply refused to work, choosing instead to march loudly, waving nationalistic banners, and invoking the haunting specter of “the labor problem” by calling for “England’s head bowed on the altar of labor.” “The imprisonment of MacSwiney,” the Times concluded soberly, “seemed the chief cause of protest.” 44

The wildcat strike that bright, warm August day was not just another reflection of the endless agitation on the docks in support of MacSwiney and Ireland, for on that particular day nearly two hundred “Negro longshoremen” broke away from their work on a nearby British steamer to march with the strikers. 45 Historian Joe Doyle, writing about that series of strikes in August 1920, has suggested that “the decision of African-American longshoremen to join the strike appears to have been influenced by Marcus Garvey, an outspoken champion of Irish [End Page 326] freedom.” 46 Garvey’s relationship to that particular strike and to those two hundred African Americans who struck in solidarity with the Irish was far more complex, I believe, than Doyle admits, and, more important, was of a piece with the broader sympathy for Ireland in Harlem. Doyle credits Garvey with a few sympathetic speeches, when the evidence suggests that Garvey was much more involved and that he personally sent a representative down to the docks that morning to encourage African American support for the Irish. Irish American nationalists responded in kind, cheering the “Negro longshoremen” who struck with them, and later venturing into Harlem. Prominent Irish Americans—including Dudley Field Malone, the former collector of the port of New York and erstwhile confidant of Woodrow Wilson—met with Garvey at the squat, brick-faced headquarters of the UNIA, named Liberty Hall, that stood at 138th Street and Lennox Avenue. Once there, Gaelic activists promised financial support for the UNIA generally and for Garvey’s magnificent venture, the Black Star Line, specifically, and vowed that the causes of Irish and African liberation would be forever linked. 47 That same week in late August, at the massive UNIA Convention being held in Manhattan, Garvey read aloud a telegram he had sent to “Father Dominick, Confessor of the Lord Mayor of Cork”—a telegram that urged Dominick to “Convey to MacSwiney [the] sympathy of 400,000,000 Negroes.” 48

A New Negro Manhood Movement

No figure in the African American surge of postwar radicalism known as the New Negro movement drew more powerful connections between anticolonialism in Ireland and the liberation of Africa than Marcus Garvey. 49 Cyril Briggs’s African Blood Brotherhood—with its [End Page 327] deliberate emulation of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and its tightly defined roles for black men and women in the revolutionary struggle for freedom—could wax Gaelic with equal force, but for sustained vigor and popularity, and for the creative manipulation of nationalism, Garvey had no peer. 50 The general facts of Garvey’s sympathy with Ireland are known, if rarely discussed. Garvey named his Liberty Hall in Harlem after the Dublin building that housed the head office of James Connolly’s Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union —a two-story, Georgian structure singled out by the British for destruction during their bombardment of Dublin after the 1916 Rising. Indeed, Garvey had been in London during Connolly’s great strike of 1914, speaking on Hyde Park corners and fraternizing with Egyptian nationalist Dusé Mohamed Ali. On occasion, Garvey argued that the green stripe on the pants of UNIA uniforms and on the African tricolor signified sympathy for the Irish cause, and he may have used the phrase “race first”—one of many possible interpretations of “Sinn Fein”—to demonstrate similar feelings. There were also more tangible events, like the wildcat strike on the Manhattan docks and the meeting with Dudley Field Malone. And on at least one occasion, Garvey claimed—excitedly and very publicly—to have been sent on a “secret mission . . . on the order of De Valera.” 51

In addition to the widespread spirit of anticolonialism that grew out of the Great War—a spirit tied to the perceived decline of Western civilization and the Russian Revolution—the gendered coding of nationalism helped cement ties between New Negroes and other anticolonial movements in America. Indeed, as racial difference (the growing sense that the Irish were part of “the white race”) increasingly pushed Irish American and African American nationalisms apart, a shared interest in manliness and hatred of empire may have helped bring them together. Irish nationalism, in both its American and Irish incarnations, was deeply and thoroughly gendered in very particular ways, leaving room for women’s direct involvement in nationalism as [End Page 328] “helpmates.” Historians have further suggested that, for New Negroes, the ideological matrix of race and gender in the postwar era brought together the imperatives of civilized manhood and domestic womanhood. The variant of postwar African American radicalism that Hubert Harrison named the New Negro Manhood movement thus produced a mountain of prescriptive literature on women’s and men’s roles—arguing, for example, that the manliness of black men lay in direct proportion to the extent of protection they afforded black women, or that black women should devote themselves to the maintenance of a Christian home. UNIA rhetoric was, of course, a response not only to the stereotypical representations of black women as asexual and masculine and of black men as shiftless and overly emotional, but also to the thirty years of criticism from African American “Women’s Era” activists. And to a certain extent, the masculinism of anticolonial protest allowed Garvey and others to reconfigure sexual relations and cultural authority within the black community along lines more acceptable to men in general and to black men in particular. 52

Proponents of a New Negro Manhood movement argued that black men were self-sacrificing protectors of race and womanhood, and that the world’s work was race work, which was men’s work. When Garvey, [End Page 329] Cyril Briggs, and others invoked death and sacrifice in the service of “the race,” the gendered qualities of New Negro radicalism emerged. “The time has come,” Garvey declared in August 1919 after suggesting that “sinister forces” were out to get him, “for the Negro race to offer up its martyrs upon the altar of liberty even as the Irish had given a long list from Robert Emmet to Roger Casement.” 53 Nor was Garvey alone in his appreciation for the politics of martyrdom, Irish martyrdom in particular; New Negroes as different as Briggs and W. E. B. Du Bois were united in their respect for the symbolic importance of male death in the service of race-patriotism. 54

The Great War proved fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of patriarchal anticolonialism. The retributive, barely repressed rage and anger expressed in New Negro radicalism was part of the broader reconstruction of masculinity in postwar America, which Gail Bederman has explored probingly. 55 New Negro radicals, tapping into a remasculinized American culture, argued that race and manhood were all that mattered. As in the broader American culture, an older, civilizationist rhetoric of “uplift” and “womanhood” persisted—Garvey’s propaganda was nearly always laced with it to a certain degree—but the Garvey movement, and the New Negro movement more generally, was a “manhood movement” above all else. 56 By 1919, arguably the take-off point for masculinist organizations like Garvey’s UNIA and Brigg’s ABB, New Negro radicals had—despite their antiwar sentiments—linked black male experience in battle with racial self-determination, celebrating the “good humor, nerves of steel, and unconquerable corp d’esprit [sic]” evinced by black soldiers in the war and depicting the New Negro as a gun-toting advocate of real social justice in America. Even Du Bois’s pro-Ally stance, criticized severely by the younger generation of New Negro radicals, shared some of the gendered peculiarities of wartime black nationalism, as the Crisis editor hoped, in the words of his biographer, to achieve “full citizenship through carnage.” “We return from fighting,” Du Bois claimed poetically, [End Page 330] “[and] we return fighting.” 57 World’s Work magazine, concerned about the “intense” pride that military service engendered in “the Negro mind,” argued that race riots in the postwar North were a logical result of the new, postwar manliness of “the Negro” and suggested that widespread national segregation—laws backed by “more knowledge and power than ever before”—might help. 58

The “manly” anticolonialism of Garvey, Du Bois, Briggs, and others merged quite easily with traditional contours of black nationalism. The masculinism of turn-of-the-century Victorian civilizationist rhetoric and the millennial flavor of Ethiopianism, for instance, often electrified Garvey’s rhetoric in particular. Much like Irish American nationalism, African American nationalism, personified by Du Bois’s ideological father, Alexander Crummell, originally drew upon European Romanticism for its corpus of ideals and later couched its protest in Social Darwinist, civilizationist terms. This was the language of the great British empire, of Anglo-Saxonism. Nevertheless, the “genteel tradition” of black nationalism was never a mere carbon copy of Irish American nationalism. If the “one drop rule” and slavery made it easy for any of the “white races” in America to disparage the potential of “the Negro” for civilization, the shared experience of slavery undermined “ethnic divisions” among Africans and made it easier for “striving,” educated African Americans to speak—without hesitation—of a unified “Negro race” in America. Indeed, “classical black nationalism,” as historian Wilson Moses has shown, predated Irish American nationalism by decades, originating in the 1700s, running through the life of “the peculiar institution,” and maturing in the 1850s. 59 By 1919 African American nationalism had a long history of masculinist, civilizationist rhetoric to draw upon, and this tradition was the life’s blood of black anticolonialism in America.

The success of the Irish in organizing a rebellion and in marshaling fiscal support from around the world gave Garvey and others reason to build real, tangible connections between Irish and African American nationalisms. And what better place to build those connections than [End Page 331] in America, where the Irish were increasingly a force in national politics and where the financial foundations of nationalism in Ireland were laid so brazenly. With its numerous Race Conventions and its sponsorship of IRB revolution, Irish American nationalism had become the standard by which all other subversive nationalisms in the United States were to be judged. The Easter Rising, the literary renaissance of Yeats and Hyde, and the Race Conventions had also marked the struggle to “save the soul of Ireland” as unique, as somehow different from previous nationalisms. The Irish, in both their American and European incarnations, were using the United States as the base from which to achieve Irish independence. Garvey envisioned the UNIA operating along similar lines. 60 Moreover, the Irish struck out at the British in 1916, proving that the Irish race had not been emasculated by “700 years” of British tyranny. Irish American nationalism was also very active in Harlem through 1920. The Harlem Branch of the Gaelic Society met monthly just two blocks from the corner of 125th Street and Lennox Avenue—near the focal center of the emergent African American community in Harlem—and also launched several successful protests at the Harlem YMCA against immoral depictions of Irish womanhood. 61 In other words, there were Gaelic Leaguers speaking on street corners within earshot of Liberty Hall, and there were local, personal connections forged on the dusty, cobbled streets of Harlem. 62 [End Page 332]

The carefully cultivated anticolonial connections of the New Negro movement were never confined to the Irish. A bevy of anti-imperialist organizations met frequently under the auspices of various Progressive venues, such as the Irish Progressive League, the Anti-Imperialist League, or the YMCA in Harlem. Groups like the Clan na Gael and the Friends of Irish Freedom had loose but important relationships with similarly named organizations, such as the Friends of Freedom for India, the Friends of New Russia, or the Friends of Negro Freedom. Dudley Field Malone and Frank P. Walsh (one of the Irish American delegates to the peace conference) were executive officers of the Friends of Freedom for India and helped put out several pamphlets in support of Gopal Singh, a “Hindu held for deportation” at the request of the British. 63 Lala Lajpat Rai, leader of the India Home Rule League of America, met with Oswald Garrison Villard of the NAACP, and Madame Bikhaiji Rustomji Cama published excerpts from Gaelic American editorials in her Bande Mataram. 64 Large meetings were held in which Indian, Irish, or New Negro activists spoke before mixed audiences. It was this broader anti-imperialism that encouraged Garvey to incite a sympathy strike on the Brooklyn pier and caused Dudley Field Malone and other Progressives to approach the UNIA at Liberty Hall. The Department of Justice, of course, quickly took note of this phenomenon and, at the behest of the British government, began infiltrating and, ultimately, repressing these organizations. 65 Although the [End Page 333] Irish in America never seemed entirely captivated by the subversive connections forged across “the color line,” Garvey, Du Bois, and others leaped at the chance to shake the foundation of “white world supremacy.” And these connections between various anti-imperialism organizations served several purposes, not the least of which was to establish beyond a doubt that black radicalism was remarkably dangerous. 66

Of course, this global anticolonial awakening was not peculiar to Manhattan. For Egyptians, Indians, and Irish, London continued to be a seat of protest against the British empire. France’s “colonial self” was soon present in the form of Blaise Diagne, the Senegalese representative in Paris. Indian nationalists, already suffering under patterns of colonial dominance modeled on Britain’s experience in Ireland, heightened Britain’s anxieties by invoking the specter of national self-discovery in the Irish mold. And the Irish themselves, with some ambivalence partly driven by racial difference, returned the favor and conceived of India as “a larger Ireland.” Indeed, as Scott Cook has noted, more than a few Gaelic agitators moved to India and worked on behalf of Indian nationalism, leading the British to legislate against “the Sinn Fein virus” in India. Garvey’s UNIA, whatever its shortcomings, had branches throughout the American South, the west coast of Africa, the Caribbean, and South Africa. The Pan-African Congress movement of Du Bois and Diagne brought together activists from around the world in the European metropolitan centers of empire. No wonder, then, that it seemed as if things were falling apart, or that journalist Lothrop Stoddard feared the “rising tide of color” and suggested [End Page 334] that “the white world” was “shipwrecked” upon the shoals of modernization and imperialism. 67

And yet, in this dangerous context, Manhattan was a natural focal point for New World radicalism. As the seat of an emergent economic empire, New York City had various material and capital connections around the world that few other cities could match. 68 There was, as historians have suggested, a unique Emersonian—or postcolonial—quality to the civic culture of New York. In the aftermath of the Great War, with American innocence spoiled and “old stock” patricians increasingly on the defensive, the battle waged in the 1910s—the battle of “the two generations”—seemed decided in favor of the younger radicals. As the “tide” of immigrants washed ashore at Ellis Island, the younger generation of American radicals, many of them children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, found their positions strengthened by sheer numbers, by the infusion of Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants into Jersey City and New York City. Moreover, Manhattan was never just the social and political stronghold of the Irish, it was also the home of socialism, communism, and zionism. Taken together, the cheeky confidence of younger radicals, the postcolonial qualities of American cultural nationalism, and the openness and relative flexibility of American egalitarianism—despite the herrenvolk nature of each—proved fertile ground for international protest movements and, more important, for the connections forged between anticolonialisms. 69 And those foundations of protest culture combined with the structural transformation of the world economy—with the arrival of Manhattan as the seat of the American economic empire—to make the docks of Manhattan and Brooklyn a likely port of call for [End Page 335] anti-imperialists of every stripe. Garvey, aware that the seat of empire was in the process of shifting from London to Manhattan, had himself followed suit, leaving Hyde Park for Harlem during the war and leaping with all the delicacy of a hurricane into African American life. Anticolonial activists saw in Manhattan a natural base of operations, and, not surprisingly, a vibrant collection of black protest groups—many antagonistic to each other—soon found a home in Harlem and not London or Jamaica.

If Manhattan’s New Negroes—from Du Bois to Garvey to Briggs—were united in their appreciation for the struggles of the Irish in Ireland against the British empire, they never once forgot that the Irish were white and that Irish Americans had a history of racial violence against African Americans. Du Bois, while insisting that “I shall at all times defend the right of Ireland to absolute independence,” reminded one correspondent that “there can be no doubt of the hostility of a large proportion of Irish Americans towards Negroes.” 70 Working-class violence against “the Negro” actually increased during and after the war, as African Americans moving northward for jobs and returning home invigorated by war and Europe challenged “white” economic mobility and manhood. 71 To a certain extent, then, the question was not whether the Irish were white, but rather just how white they were. “The English people,” Garvey argued,

have spread and scattered the universal propaganda against the Irishman, trying to impress the world that the Irishman is not fit to govern himself. In spite of that propaganda the Irish have been fighting for seven hundred years. What they have done to the Irish they will do to the Negro. But to our advantage, while the Irish are only 4,000,000, we are 400,000,000 . . . [and because] of the position of England to Ireland [End Page 336] and Ireland to England, they are all cousins if not brothers. They are all one people, and it is only a matter of national limits that caused them to be fighting one against the other. It is not a matter of injustice done because of race. . . . [W]e cannot say that Ireland’s fight is just like ours. 72

Radical monthlies published in postwar New York were thus of two distinct minds about the Irish, celebrating their every success in the struggle for freedom and castigating them for their repeated and continued violence against African Americans. For every editorial or public speech that concluded that “white Irishmen are equally, and in some instances, more oppressed than Negroes,” there was another arguing the opposite and suggesting that “white Irishmen” were, in fact, more often directly responsible for the plight of “the Negro.” 73 Time and time again, the New Negro critical discourse on the Irish problem hit upon an emerging disjunction between Irish claims to be racially distinct and popular arguments to the contrary. Were the Irish “absolutely” white? If so, was the Irish problem really analogous to the Negro problem? That question grew more difficult to answer affirmatively once an Irish republic had, in imagination and in law, been established. Indeed, when the Anglo-Irish war ended, the achievement of an Irish free state and the subsequent civil war over the Anglo-Irish treaty split American organizations down the middle, making future Race Conventions improbable and further undermining the very possibility that the Irish constituted a race apart. 74

To postwar race leaders in Harlem, the predicaments of the Irish in Ireland and the Negro in America were, on the surface, strikingly similar: a shared interest in anticolonialism and antiracism tied to a deep antipathy for “perfidious Albion,” a desire to overturn a series of racial representations that were deeply gendered and tightly tied to colonial oppression, a hope that Wilsonian idealism and the postwar drive for colonial self-determination might overturn the dominance of white over black or Anglo-Saxon over Celt, and a sense of global dispersion and racial community that made their struggles similarly diasporic and geopolitically complex. Despite the lofty rhetoric of shared struggle, [End Page 337] however, the increasingly undeniable whiteness of the Irish in America and the subtle differences between Irish and black anticolonialism forced NAACP propagandists, soapbox socialists, Liberty Hall zionists, Clan na Gael subversives, and Irish politicians to deal publicly with the differences between Celt and Negro and between Irishness and blackness. The best efforts of intra- and postwar Irish American nationalists, then, were futile, and the belief in the distinctive racial “Irishness” of the Celt in America was gradually eroded by popular faith in the new science of genetics, postwar culture, and economic growth. A new idiom of race—a new set of symbols, words, and meanings that marked biological and historical difference—was thus emerging in the aftermath of the Great War. The use of the new idiom of race by black nationalists (in varying degrees) marked a popular shift toward what D. H. Lawrence termed “absolute whiteness”—and, one might add, “absolute blackness”—undermining that tenuous solidarity between “the Irish” and “the Negro” that one finds in the rhetoric of Garvey, the African Blood Brotherhood, and the New Negro movement.

In the process of exploring their commitment to this new race consciousness, moreover, New Negro radicals crafted a uniquely creative critique of the new order of things in the world. In interesting and important ways, New Negro “race men” pushed the anticolonialism of the Irish where Daniel Cohalan and others had never dared to take it: into a critique of the world’s economic culture, a culture that directly involved the United States in the process of “imperial anticolonialism” and increasingly victimized growing numbers of “the darker peoples” in Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Not coincidentally, a “Nordic vogue” sprang up simultaneously around the idea that whiteness was transnational and global, and that whites and blacks were confronting each other in Africa, in Europe, and, after the first waves of the Great Migration, throughout America. The major players of this Nordic vogue in Manhattan were themselves, much like their New Negro counterparts, concerned about the nature of the world economy and the fate of “white world supremacy.” An intense debate over the ethics and morality of America’s capitalist expansion —encompassing both liberal internationalism, outright imperialism, and internal migration/immigration—made criticisms of the British empire seem old-fashioned and outdated, and connected both New Negroes and Nordic voguers. The debate is reflected in Garvey’s correspondence with Virginia aristocrat Earnest Sevier Cox, in Hubert Harrison’s admiration of Lothrop Stoddard’s Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy, and in Du Bois’s powerful response to that same book in his Darkwater. [End Page 338]

“The New Race Consciousness”

Participating in an argument about America’s role in the world, the New Negro Manhood movement gave birth to a self-conscious “black Atlantic” culture rooted in transnational, “race-conscious” protest against the moral foundations of economic exploitation around the globe. In doing so, its members shed some—but not all—of the elitism of the “genteel” nationalism of the nineteenth century, putting the struggles of “the race” around the world in an economic context and embedding their nationalism in what might loosely be described as the Marxist tradition. Wilson Moses has argued that Garvey’s repeated invocation of “400,000,000 Negroes” constituted a step away from the earlier Victorianism and elitism of “classical black nationalism.” Michele Mitchell, in an important corrective to Moses’s work, has revealed the persistent Victorianism of Garvey, particularly in terms of gender, and David Lewis has similarly put Du Bois’s own percolated chauvinism in the context of a lengthy tradition of African American protest. 75 Both Garvey and Du Bois, though, shed some of their elitism when they appropriated the New Race Consciousness. If Nordic theorists suggested that America was the last bastion of “the white race” and that “race consciousness” alone could preserve the foundations of the republic, New Negro thinkers responded by similarly conflating race with class, and by raising the specter of a worldwide revolt of “the darker masses” against their white “overlords.” Garvey’s postwar rhetoric inspired a “Black Scare,” with all the attendant political repressions that accompany state nationalism. Indeed, with so much rhetorical heat being generated over “the race problem,” it was perhaps inevitable that the bounds of race would be recast; the fire of “white world supremacy” and the brimstone of Garvey’s “400,000,000 Negroes” and Du Bois’s “stinging hammer blows” combined to change forever the way race and racial difference was to be spoken and symbolized in American political discourse.

Aside from Du Bois, no one understood the nature of the problem better than West Indian émigré and popular street-corner orator Hubert Henry Harrison. “The cause of ‘radicalism’ among American Negroes,” suggested Harrison after the war, “is international...[and] the international Fact to which Negroes in America are now reacting is not the exploitation of laborers by capitalists; but the social, political [End Page 339] and economic subjection of colored peoples by white.” 76 When, after the war, Harrison gathered his essays together in When Africa Awakes, he gave a name to the racial radicalism that emerged from the “international Fact” of exploitation: “the New Race Consciousness.” That New Race Consciousness, Harrison suggested, was less a matter of world historical destiny and national borders and more a matter of the interplay of color, class, and region in the world economy. And with its diffusion into popular culture through New Negro and Nordic vogues, the New Race Consciousness replaced the older, Romantic discourse of race, streamlining “fifty races” into five and ending the ambiguous whiteness of the Irish in America.

In addition to postwar anxiety over the fate of Western culture and the concomitant emergence of anticolonialism in India, Ireland, Egypt, and the United States, several factors precipitated the emergence of this New Race Consciousness, including the first waves of African American migration northward during and after the war. During the war, tens of thousands of African Americans left Jim Crow behind for the factory work and relative safety found in the industrial North. 77 [End Page 340] Although this Great Migration was an important catalyst for the New Negro Manhood movement, the remarkable reinvigoration of northern Negrophobia in the 1920s and 1930s suggests that a related by-product of the Great Migration may be the psychological impact of an altogether “out of place” black presence in the North. Nativist-turned-Negrophobe Madison Grant moaned apocalyptically in 1933 that “there are now swarms of [Negroes] in the Harlem District of New York.” 78 The proliferation of northern race riots in Chicago, East St. Louis, Springfield, and elsewhere; the brief national resurgence of the second Ku Klux Klan; and patrician nativists’ increasing fear of African Americans reflect, in part, a highly ironic and no doubt unanticipated consequence of the Great Migration: the increasing Negrophobia and general obsession with “the Negro” found in New York and elsewhere. Whites and blacks—or Nordics and Negroes—were becoming prominent in each other’s minds and in the urban geography of the North. It was, in part, the after-effects of this symbolic and real penetration of “the Negro” into the Nordic world of urban, northeastern America that encouraged Madison Grant to reorganize his thoughts on “race” in accordance with what he termed the “Southern way” and to “sympathize,” as he wrote, “with the firm resolve of the handful of white men in South Africa.” Similarly, Lothrop Stoddard was led to draw powerful biological, political, and economic connections between “conflicts of color” in Africa, America, and Australasia. 79 The arrival of African Americans in the North thus stimulated Freudian fascination and racist revulsion, the “Negro vogue,” and the new Negrophobia.

The connection between popular knowledge of science and the spectacular postwar growth of the American economy was another, more subtle, factor in the emergence of the New Race Consciousness. The 1910s and 1920s were a period of great public faith in and fascination with science and economics, so much so that scientific and economic conceptions of human relations became the root of social relations in American culture. The triumph of scientific thought in [End Page 341] American culture helped to change thought itself. “Science is giving us a new world,” trumpeted Stoddard:

Few persons will question the truth of that statement. But how many of us realize all that it implies? We may think we do. We see science evoking a series of marvelous inventions which affect our daily lives. New sources of material energy are tapped and harnessed to innumerable machines obedient to our will. A recent survey of mechanical development estimates that the amount of work done by machinery in the United States alone would demand the toil of 3,000,000,000 hard-driven slaves. Nature’s hidden powers yield themselves as at the touch of a magician’s wand. Time and distance alike diminish, and the very planet shrinks to the measure of human hands. 80

The real benefit of this “new world,” Stoddard continued, lay not in the application of technological development, but rather in the effect such applications had on “the Nordic world”: “Shocked broad awake, the old stock is for the first time developing a real race-consciousness.” 81 Stoddard’s erstwhile confidant, Hubert Harrison, agreed and concluded that this “shock” was at the root of the “white world’s” vague unease and growing awareness that “Negroes [were] awake, different, and perplexingly uncertain” everywhere. 82 When that new world view was accompanied by a penchant for streamlining, scientific management, and the gospel of efficiency, much of the tangled imprecision of Romantic racialism gave way to the ruthlessly mechanical taxonomy of the New Race Consciousness. This mechanical and scientific conception of the world, buttressed by global economic ties, made the various connections between Nordics and Negroes engendered by the Great Migration even more tangible, helping to force the emergence of the New Race Consciousness.

Once the reconstruction of the dominant discourse of race was complete, the New Race Consciousness quickly became the lingua franca of American political culture. Radicals and conservatives, New Negroes and Nordic voguers, found something in common when it came to speaking, thinking, and symbolizing the idea of racial difference. New Negro advocates of the New Race Consciousness, unlike the Irish, directed their barbs not at old-fashioned Anglo-Saxonism but, instead, at proponents of a worldwide Nordic vogue. Patrician eugenicist Madison Grant and World’s Work correspondent Lothrop [End Page 342] Stoddard were often singled out for criticism or, interestingly enough, praise in New Negro monthlies. 83 Harrison, for one, found much to admire in reviewing Stoddard’s Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy. Lauding Stoddard’s use of science as “organized daily knowledge and common sense,” Harrison urged his readers to purchase the book, writing that it “should be widely read by intelligent men of color from Tokio to Tallahassee.” 84 Indeed, Harrison was so enamored of Stoddard’s work that he struck up a chatty correspondence with the journalist, sending him chapter outlines for a book on Islam and reminding the “blond overlord” that “naturally, since I am a Negro, my sympathies are not at all with you: that which you fear I naturally hope for.” 85 [End Page 343]

Nordic voguers and New Negroes argued with each other, and sometimes even agreed with each other, about the morality and ethics of America’s new role in the world. Harrison, for instance, launched tirade after tirade against the tide of Nordicism that rested upon the fervent belief in the rightful supremacy of the “dark red blood” of the white “capitalist superman.” 86 The debate over “white world supremacy” focused on the general belief in the congruence of race, class, and place that marked the geopolitical and world economic positions of both the West and “the darker nations.” Not only were the “white race” and “black race” singular entities—lacking any real internal divisions—but the former was also invariably cast in the role of metropolitan entrepreneur and innovator and the latter as backward peasant. 87 Of all the “darker nations,” Africa and Africans—wherever they or their descendants might be—were seemingly always already at the bottom of the list. Thus the picture of Africa as “a land of enormous potential wealth[,] . . . raw materials, and foodstuffs” drawn by Stoddard, one of the main popularizers of the New Race Consciousness, went hand in hand with the suggestion that black Africans—at home and abroad—were a natural, perfectly exploitable, work force and, more explicitly, a shared “problem” of the white race everywhere. 88 As the United States stepped onto the world stage as an industrial leader, the world economy was increasingly racialized. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the Red Scare, African American arbiters of the New Race Consciousness were not averse to taking the idea of a racialized, functional world economy and making it seem very, very dangerous. If, as Wilson Moses writes, “the black masses became acceptable to the black world—more than incidentally—at the same time that they were becoming more acceptable to the white,” masterful propagandists like Garvey and Du Bois sometimes made those “masses” seem remarkably dangerous, with a proletarian thirst for liberation, [End Page 344] justice, and social equality. 89 The emergence of the New Race Consciousness—and African American anticolonialism—was, then, tightly tied to the evolution of a racialized, functional world economic system. And in that emergent world system, more often than not, racial classifications were ordered along the lines of class, region, and genetics.

When the American occupation of Haiti—the symbolic center of Pan-Africanist discourse—began, both the occupation itself and the African American response buttressed the growing strength of the New Race Consciousness. The racialized world economy rested upon a deep and fervent belief that economic, intellectual, technological, and cultural capital all resided in the West—and in “white America” more particularly. This concentration of capital (very broadly conceived) could then be exported in one fashion or another to the “darker peoples of the world,” who also served as both the “mudsill” of civilization and a laboring class. Thus the occupation of Haiti was marked by a drive to improve its infrastructure—building railroads, hospitals, and public buildings, and improving roads—to facilitate the inroads made by big business, as well as to demonstrate the technological, cultural, and intellectual superiority of white Nordic America. 90 This “soft imperialism,” as scholars have aptly demonstrated, practiced an exceedingly subtle form of social control, one much more diffuse than the formal, institutional colonialism practiced by the British or French. 91 Under the cover of a military dictatorship that was purportedly both benevolent and temporary, the multifaceted superiority of “white America” was inscribed upon the life of Haiti by the legions of bankers, technophiles, artists, anthropologists, politicians, soldiers, and scientists who approached the island as an experiment in social engineering.

Despite the purportedly humanitarian gestures of the American expedition to Haiti, postwar New Negro radicals were quick to criticize [End Page 345] the Wilson administration, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, and the sinister forces of “American capital” lurking behind the scenes. Incensed when Haiti was forced to adopt an unpopular constitution, encouraged by white fears that “civilization” was in decline, and spurred into action by the emergence of anticolonialism and the violence of the Red Summer, New Negroes—led, of course, by Du Bois—drew powerful connections between their fate in the Negrophobic United States and the fate of Haiti’s own “darker people.” 92 And many, especially Du Bois, commented upon the rapidly evolving economic relationship between “the white world” and the “darker peoples” as it was revealed in Haiti. NAACP executive Herbert Seligman and field secretary James Weldon Johnson journeyed to Haiti on an anti-imperialist fact-finding mission, and Johnson later published his critical findings in The Nation. Johnson, Seligman, and The Nation, Du Bois suggested, had unraveled “the seizure of a nation by the National City Bank of Wall Street.” Garvey, always an ardent—if qualified—devotee of capitalism, did scramble to establish more branches of the UNIA in Haiti as part of his grand plan to “assemble the great negro capitalists of the U.S. . . . [and] to unite, to organize, and to mobilize the intellectual and material forces of the 400,000,000 blacks of the entire world,” but he also kept Haiti—and Haitian independence—in the minds and hearts of UNIA members. 93 For Du Bois, the Haitian expedition had nothing to do with benevolence: “The United States,” he remarked bitterly, “is at war with Haiti.” 94

Anticolonialism and African American political culture had, it seemed, been drawn together permanently after the Great War, and Du Bois—who was over fifty years old in 1920—was one of the ties that bound. Even before the war, Du Bois had one-upped Lenin, drawing sweeping, powerful conclusions not simply about empire and industrialism, but also about the nature of the relationship between race, class, and “the increasingly intricate, world-embracing industrial machine that . . . civilization has built.” 95 In organizing the Pan-African Congresses of the 1920s, Du Bois was among the first to “reach [End Page 346] out”—imaginatively, spiritually, materially, and politically—to Africa. And when he drafted the manifesto of the Second Pan-African Congress, with both Haiti and Africa on his mind, Du Bois spoke of liberation from the “industrial machine” and the need to “judge men as men and not as material and labor.” “If we are coming to recognize that the great modern problem is to correct maladjustment in the distribution of wealth,” Du Bois argued, “. . . it must be remembered that the basic maladjustment is the outrageously unjust distribution of world income between the dominant and suppressed peoples; in the rape of the land and raw material, and monopoly of technique and culture. And in this crime white labor is particeps criminis with white capital.” 96 To argue that white labor and capital were complicitous in the exploitation of people of color around the world, to invoke class so readily, was to cut against the grain of American culture after the Red Scare. And Du Bois’s discussion of “the race problem” as “the labor problem” must have alarmed Stoddard, who was then writing Revolt against Civilization. Such connections were to play an ever-larger role in African American political discourse. 97

Du Bois had traveled a long road from the Universal Races Congress to the militancy of the early 1920s. The Crisis editor’s writings from the postwar period are infinitely grimmer, leaner, and meaner than anything he had written before the war. In part, this militancy reflected Du Bois’s growing sense that the magnificent façade of civilization had cracked, and that Western culture had stumbled during the Great War on its march to perfection. Those terrified authors bewailing the “crisis” of the West lent a degree of backhanded support to Du Bois’s assertions that the “darker world” was rising, as well as to similar pronouncements from Garvey, Briggs, Harrison, and others. 98 But Du Bois had skeletons that needed to be closeted. If “Close Ranks”—the editorial in which Du Bois advocated African American support for the war effort—was Du Bois’s worst miscalculation, the anger and fire of Darkwater and the Pan-African Congresses was part [End Page 347] of an ingenious recovery. Other factors were equally important. When Booker T. Washington had been Du Bois’s nemesis, the black brahmin could easily position himself as the more radical advocate of social justice for “Negroes.” But with Washington dead and with the “class of 1917” stirring up trouble in Harlem, Du Bois was suddenly one of the “old crowd Negroes.” In a world shattered by war, and in the face of his critics on the left who called him “old” and “traitorous,” Du Bois chose to flex his propagandistic muscles and bring more “stinging hammer blows” down upon “white world supremacy.”

Hubert Harrison found in Stoddard a civil, if ideologically backward, comrade; Du Bois, in contrast, had nothing but scorn for the vanguard of “white” American critics of world’s work. Asked about Stoddard’s belief that “Negroes” had no ability to govern themselves, Du Bois arrogantly dismissed the journalist’s credentials, concluding that “Lothrop Stoddard has no standing as a sociologist. . . . [He] is simply a popular writer who has some vogue now.” 99 While Garvey cited Stoddard and Harrison favorably reviewed his work, Du Bois attacked it, rebutting Stoddard’s arch-critique of the modernization of “backward” people in the appropriated metaphors and vitriolic content of Darkwater. Therein he concluded that the “European world is using black and brown men for all the uses which men know,” and shouted back at Stoddard, “I am black!” More threateningly, the scent of race war lingered in the pages of his most powerful essay in Darkwater, “The Souls of White Folk.” “As wild and awful as [the Great War] was,” he growled, “it is nothing to compare with that fight for freedom which black and brown and yellow men must and will make. . . . The Dark World is going to submit to its present treatment just as long as it must and not one moment longer.” 100 Responding to the charge that Darkwater might incite a race war, Du Bois hinted angrily that some wars were justifiable. 101 And when Stoddard and Du Bois met one night at a debate on “the race problem,” Du Bois’s anger was palpable. “Suppose you say,” Du Bois suggested grimly at the debate, “despite anything that the Darker races . . . may ask, we are going to sit tight and keep them where they belong. Then the question is, can you do it?” Du Bois’s cool and deliberate consideration of an anticipated war of the races between Nordic “supermen” and “the darker peoples” was—in comparison with the ameliorative voices of the NAACP, the [End Page 348] National Urban League, and the onetime author of “Close Ranks”—revolutionary. 102

In the battle for racial justice, Du Bois’s postwar Pan-Africanism was a “phase of war.” 103 An earlier Pan-African Conference, attended by the likes of Edward Blyden, Henry Sylvester Williams, and Bishop Henry Turner, had aroused some attention, but by the end of the war Williams, Blyden, Turner, and most of the other leaders present at that conference had died. Du Bois, increasingly challenged by Garvey and others, seized the opportunity presented by the peace conference and, after months of scrappy hard work and with the support of the NAACP, left for Paris aboard the Orizaba. The congress itself, held in February 1919, was packed with NAACP figures of note, including William English Walling and Joel Sprigarn, who mingled, argued, and sympathized with Blaise Diagne and like-minded leaders from South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, the French and Belgian Congo, and elsewhere. For the next ten years, Pan-African Congresses were held throughout Europe—in Brussels, Paris, and London—stimulating anticolonialism in Africa and the Caribbean. Du Bois, reveling in his undisputed leadership role and always a bit Victorian, proudly announced to the American public that those present at the congresses “were undoubtedly an intelligenzia,” and privately described the Pan-African movement as an attempt to organize “many millions of people of Negro blood varying from men of modern education in America and West Africa to the barbarians and savages of Africa.” 104

Forgiving the characteristically elitist bent of Du Bois’s political thought, if Pan-Africanism “signified the militant, anticapitalist, solidarity of the darker world,” it was also part of the broader transformation of American racial discourse. 105 And if the road from erstwhile civilizationism to ardent anticolonialism was tough for Du Bois, the shift from Romantic racialism to the New Race Consciousness was relatively painless. Du Bois’s lifelong quest for social justice intersected the Great War just as his critical faculties reached the height of their [End Page 349] power. Tempered not just by age and experience, but also by Bolshevism, the Great Migration, the decline of the West, and the bone-chilling racism of 1919, Du Bois drew connections between “the Negro problems” around the world years before most of the New Negro radicals, recognizing—correctly, I think—that the Marxist tradition had something to offer African American protest. In doing so, however, Du Bois shed the clumsy imprecision of Romantic racialism and helped to move the lines of racial classification from “the fifty races of the world” to five: the black, brown, red, yellow, and white. In an America where experience itself was constructed in economic or mechanical terms, and in a world where hundreds of millions of people were connected by the “conquest of time and space by goods production, railway, telegraph, telephone, and flying machine,” the New Race Consciousness was part of the new order of things. 106 Du Bois, his synapses firing and his editorial pen a blur of motion, helped to inscribe that new language of racial difference into American political culture.

As New Negro radicalism dispersed into the literary renaissance of the 1920s, Du Bois, much like his friends and enemies among the “younger crowd,” kept hammering home the New Race Consciousness. Alain Locke’s edited collection, The New Negro, has generally been seen as an “epochal” or inaugural text of the so-called Harlem Renaissance. In keeping with Locke’s faith in the idea of “art for art’s sake,” that collection includes nothing from socialists Asa Randolph and Chandler Owen, and certainly nothing from Marcus Garvey or Hubert Harrison, but it does end with a powerful essay by Du Bois, one previously published under the title “Worlds of Color.” Retitled “The Negro Mind Reaches Out,” that essay connected the new radicalism among African Americans with the “darker peoples of the world.” “Led by American Negroes,” wrote Du Bois, “the Negroes of the world are reaching out hands towards each other to know, to sympathize, to inquire.” 107 Or, as Alain Locke, with characteristic flair, put it in the introduction: “as a world problem, the Negro mind has leapt . . . upon the parapets of prejudice and extended its cramped horizons.” 108 When New Negroes claimed the mantle of the New Race Consciousness, they helped extinguish the idea of the Irish race. With the increasing awareness of “shadows” around the world, and with the streamlined [End Page 350] sense of race that accompanied the growth of the racialized global economy, American political culture was cognitively incapable of managing the idea of an Irish race. The diasporic, color-coded New Race Consciousness could not help but tincture the burgeoning Harlem Renaissance, putting it on an entirely different foundation—in terms of racial classification—than its nominal predecessor, the Gaelic Renaissance of the Irish. In an American culture increasingly organized around a global economy and obsessed with science, mechanics, and technologies, the collective force of New Negro minds “reaching out” toward the “darker peoples of the world,” and of Nordic minds shocked awake, refashioned the bounds of race.

In 1900, to be Irish in America was much the same as being Irish in Great Britain, but by 1930, the same could not be said. In the aftermath of the Great War, as anticolonial sentiments drew the causes of Ireland and Africa together, Irish Americans and African Americans were forced further apart by the emergence of the New Race Consciousness. In the United States, no longer could the Irish be envisioned as both Celts and whites—as members of the many “white races.” “Absolute whiteness” and its counterpart, “absolute blackness,” reigned triumphant in American culture. This remarkable transformation came to pass even as the United States leaped onto the world stage in war, in diplomacy, in economic expansion, and in cultural imperialism. If, in diplomatic terms, the 1920s were a decade of isolationism, they were also an age of cultural exports like jazz and “the Negro,” and of unprecedented corporate consolidation and global growth in what we now term the Third World. Also in the 1920s, in the urban Northeast (the source of much of this global energy), the symbolic importance of “the Negro” grew as tired and angry African Americans flooded into New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. What emerged out of this context, I believe, was the widespread, shared belief in a “black Atlantic” and a “white Atlantic” to match—what Hubert Harrison called “the New Race Consciousness.”

Race, empire, and war have histories that are often part of a particular historical context. It is simply not enough to invoke “race” as an omnipresent idea applied uniformly to specific situations by different groups. It is exceedingly important that the narrative of those undeniably global forces involved in the application of race be balanced by a sense of those local and human peculiarities that always complicate things. This essay has attempted just such a balance between the imperatives of world history, the necessities of local history, and the infinite quirks of biography. When the Great War was [End Page 351] over, black protest leaders W. E. B. Du Bois, Hubert Harrison, and Marcus Garvey found themselves confronted by an insidious white world supremacy that increasingly acted on these three levels: from the personal, to the regional or national, to the global. “Absolute whiteness,” or the sense that all the white races were really just one white race, was largely behind this confusion of race, class, and region in a growing world economy. And “absolute blackness” was partly a reaction to this delicately layered racism. Both were born out of a context that was at once strangely American and yet deeply and profoundly global.

Matthew Pratt Guterl
Rutgers University


* Special thanks to Michael Adas and David Levering Lewis for their detailed comments on the final draft of this essay, and also to Mia Bay, Rosanne Currarino, Finis Dunaway, Matthew Jacobson, Jackson Lears, Michele Mitchell, Neil Brody Miller, Khalil Muhammad, James Todd Uhlman, Deborah G. White, and the members of the Black Atlantic Project at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, 1997–98.

1. David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868–1919 (New York: Henry Holt, 1993), p. 439.

2. W. E. B. Du Bois, “The First Universal Races Congress,” in W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader, ed. David Levering Lewis (New York: Henry Holt, 1995), p. 44. First published in 1911.

3. “The Races Congress,” in Selections from the “Crisis,” 1911–1925, ed. Herbert Aptheker (Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus-Thompson, 1983), pp. 18, 26. First published in 1911.

4. Lewis, Du Bois: Biography, p. 439; Mary White Ovington, The Walls Came Tumbling Down (1947; reprint, New York: Feminist Press, 1997), p. 132.

5. Paul Rich, “‘The Baptism of a New Era’: The 1911 Universal Races Congress and the Liberal Ideology of Race,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 7 (1984): 534–48.

6. Ibid., p. 534; Lewis, Du Bois: Biography, pp. 439–43; Elliot Rudwick, “W. E. B. Du Bois and the Universal Races Congress of 1911,” Phylon (1959): 372–78.

7. Lewis, Du Bois: Biography, pp. 439–44. For evidence of later enthusiasm for the Races Congress, see Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn: An Essay towards an Autobiography of a Race Concept (1940; reprint, New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Press, 1984), pp. 229–31; and Du Bois, The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century (1968; reprint, New York: International Publishers, 1991), p. 258.

8. Michael Geyer and Charles Bright, “World History in a Global Age,” American Historical Review 100 (1995): 1038; Jerry Bentley, “Cross-Cultural Interactions and Periodization in World History,” American Historical Review 101 (1996): 749–70; Patrick Manning, “The Problem of Interactions in World History,” American Historical Review 101 (1996): 771–82.

9. On the importance of “levels” and world history, see Thomas C. Holt, “Marking: Race, Race-making, and the Writing of History,” American Historical Review 100 (1995): 1–20. Holt argues that historians should weave together the various “levels” of experience when considering racial formation—levels as diverse as the world economic and the individual psychological.

10. Henry Louis Gates Jr., “Writing ‘Race’ and the Difference It Makes,” in “Race,” Writing, and Difference, ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), pp. 1–20. While I am partly inspired by the work of Paul Gilroy, I consider my own project to be organized around an entirely different set of historical questions than Gilroy’s. If Gilroy writes of a transhistorical, global, and diasporic “black culture” rooted in anticapitalist and anti-imperialist protest, I am writing about the historical roots of that culture and situating my discussion of that story within the framework of a history of the idea of race in the United States between the two world wars. See Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

11. John R. Commons, Races and Immigrants in America (1907; reprint, New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1967), pp. 12–13.

12. Lothrop Stoddard, The French Revolution in San Domingo (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1914), p. vi.

13. Du Bois, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1920), pp. 29–30.

14. Thomas Brown, “The Origins and Character of Irish-American Nationalism,” Review of Politics 18 (1956): 333. See also Brown, Irish-American Nationalism, 1870–1890 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966), pp. 1–83.

15. Kerby Miller, “Class, Culture, and Immigrant Group Identity in the United States: The Case of Irish-American Ethnicity,” in Immigration Reconsidered: History, Sociology, and Politics, ed. Virginia Yans-McLaughlin (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 118. More generally, see Kerby Miller, Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

16. Kerby Miller, “Assimilation and Alienation: Irish Emigrants’ Responses to Industrial America, 1871–1921,” in The Irish in America: Emigration, Assimilation, Impact, ed. P. J. Drury (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 107.

17. The classic texts on the scientific knowledge of the Celt developed in Victorian Britain and America are the following: L. Perry Curtis Jr., Anglo-Saxons and Celts: A Study of Anti-Irish Prejudice in Victorian England (Bridgeport, Conn.: Conference on British Studies, 1968); Curtis Jr., Apes and Angels: The Irishman in Victorian Caricature (1984; reprint, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997); and John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism (1955; reprint, New York: Athenaeum, 1975), especially pp. 25–34. See also Luke Gibbons, “Race against Time: Racial Discourse and Irish History,” Oxford Literary Review 13 (1991): 95–117; Vincent J. Cheng, Joyce, Race, and Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 15–56. The most vigorous response to Curtis can be found in R. F. Foster, “Paddy and Mr. Punch,” in Paddy and Mr. Punch: Connections in Irish and English History (New York: Penguin, 1993), pp. 171–94.

18. The lack of clear-cut gender distinctions—the manly Irishwomen; the emotional Irishman—hinted at the “uncivilized” nature of the Celt; see Curtis Jr., Apes and Angels; and Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).

19. The phrase is from the first Irish Race Convention’s “Declaration of Principles,” reprinted in John Devoy, Recollections of an Irish Rebel (Shannon: Irish University Press, 1928), p. 452. For a full discussion of the role of race in Irish American nationalism, see Miller, Emigrants and Exiles; James P. Rodechko, Patrick Ford and the Search for America (New York: Arno, 1968), pp. 256–73; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), pp. 39–90; Jacobson, Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995), pp. 177–216.

20. Patrick Ford, trained as a printer under William Lloyd Garrison, was often an outspoken nationalist advocate of the African American cause, as was John Boyle O’Reilly, editor of the Boston Pilot. See Rodechko, Patrick Ford; Mark R. Schneider, Boston Confronts Jim Crow, 1890–1920 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997), pp. 160–69.

21. Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working-Class (London: Verso, 1991).

22. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, vol. 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control (London: Verso, 1994), especially pp. 159–99; Roediger, Wages of Whiteness; Roediger, “Whiteness and Ethnicity in the History of ‘White Ethnics’ in the United States,” in Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History (London: Verso, 1994), pp. 181–98; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998). The ambiguity hinted at here between Irishness and whiteness is, of course, in direct opposition to the more streamlined interpretation offered by Noel Ignatiev in his How the Irish Became White (London: Routledge, 1995). Foundational texts on Anglo-Saxonism include Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (1963; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Stuart Anderson, Race and Rapprochement: Anglo-Saxonism and Anglo-American Relations, 1895–1904 (Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1981); and Reginald Horseman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981).

23. For definitive proof of a close German-Irish relationship, see Daniel Cohalan to Joseph McGarrity, 21 October 1914; McGarrity, “Memos on the IRB Trouble in Ireland”; and McGarrity, “German Connections regarding Military Help for Ireland”; all in the Joseph McGarrity Papers, National Library of Ireland, ms 17,550.

24. Joseph Lee, Ireland, 1912–1985: Politics and Society (New York: Cambidge University Press, 1989), pp. 20–21.

25. Irish World, 17 October 1914. On the gendered qualities of Irish nationalism generally, see C. L. Innes, Woman and Nation in Irish Literature and Society, 1880–1935 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993), especially pp. 43–62; Patrick McDevitt, “Muscular Catholicism: Nationalism, Masculinity, and Gaelic Team Sports, 1884–1916,” Gender and History 9 (1997): 262–84.

26. Irish World, 17 October 1914 and 3 October 1914.

27. The World [London], 12 January 1912.

28. Kathleen Donovan, “Good Old Pat: An Irish-American Stereotype in Decline,” Eire-Ireland 15 (Fall 1980): 6–14; John J. Appel, “From Shanties to Lace Curtains: The Irish Image in Puck, 1876–1910,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 13 (1971): 365–75; Joel Perlmann, Ethnic Differences: Schooling and Social Structure among the Irish, Italians, Jews, and Blacks in an American City, 1880–1935 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Schneider, Boston Confronts Jim Crow, pp. 169–212; Donald B. Cole, Immigrant City: Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1845–1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963), especially pp. 195–200.

29. Michael Paul Rogin, “‘The Sword Became a Flashing Vision’: D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation,” in “Ronald Reagan,” The Movie: And Other Episodes in Political Demonology, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).

30. David Nasaw, Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements (New York: Basic Books, 1993), especially p. 2.

31. On state patriotism see Higham, Strangers in the Land, pp. 194–254; Stephen Vaughn, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public Information (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980); Joan M. Jensen, The Price of Vigilance (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968); Robert Ferrell, Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917–1921 (New York: Harper and Row, 1985), pp. 200–218. On the Von Igel affair see Ward, Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, pp. 129–30; “German Interest in Irish Matters,” Records of the Office of the Counselor (RG 59), National Archives (NA), File 137, Box 8, Location 250/45/34/01. On Irish American reaction to repression, see, for example, McGarrity’s personal memo after a “spy” had been discovered in the Philadelphia branch of the Clan (Memo, dated 11 June 1912, Joseph McGarrity Papers, National Library of Ireland, ms 17,550). He writes: “Here was the first designate proof I had ever seen of the active spy system of the British with regard to the Clan na Gael; I was aroused to the great pitch of excitement, here was real proof of the importance of our Organization and of its danger to the Great British Empire.”

32. Horace Kallen, “Democracy versus the Melting Pot,” in Culture and Democracy in the United States (1915; reprint, New York: Boni and Liveright, 1924), p. 124.

33. Address of Rev. John Cavanaugh at the American Irish Historical Society, “Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet, an Ideal Hyphenated American,” reprinted in Irish World, 15 January 1916. On antihyphenates and Americanism, see Higham, Strangers in the Land, pp. 158–94; also “The Hyphen in History,” Irish World, 1 November 1919.

34. See the speeches of the convention reprinted in Gaelic America, 11 March 1916; also “Columbus and Ireland,” Irish World, 12 October 1918. No figure achieved the luminosity of the American Cincinnatus, George Washington, in the nationalist rhetoric of the 1910s. Washington’s Americanism, masculinism, and doctrine of avoiding “entangling alliances” were touted by Irish Americans struggling to come to grips with the frightening possibility of an Anglo-American alliance. See “Elihu Root versus George Washington,” Irish World, 26 February 1916; Patrick Ford, The Criminal History of the British Empire (1881; reprint, New York: Irish World, 1915); and Thomas Mahoney, Similarities between the American and Irish Revolutions (New York: Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, 1921); “The Irish Element in Thanksgiving,” Irish World, 29 November 1919; “Dread Secrets Hid in Muster of 1778,” Philadelphia Ledger, 6 November 1911.

35. Humphrey J. Desmond, Why God Loves the Irish (New York: Devin Adair, 1918), p. 107.

36. Irish World, 20 May 1916.

37. Speech delivered at Carnegie Hall, 24 January 1917, Daniel F. Cohalan Papers, American Irish Historical Society, Box 23, Folder 5.

38. William Thompson, The Imagination of an Insurrection (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967); and Donal McCartney, “The Gaelic Ideological Origins of 1916,” in 1916: The Easter Rising, ed. Owen Dudley Edwards and Fergus Pyle (London: MacGibbo Kee, 1968), pp. 44–45. On the Rising more generally see Max Caulfield, The Easter Rebellion (1963; reprint, Dublin: Gill and McMillan, 1995).

39. Devoy to McGarrity, 22 April 1917, Joseph McGarrity Collection, National Library of Ireland, ms 17,609(5). On the take-off of nationalism in Ireland after the Rising, see Lyons, Ireland since the Famine, pp. 381–95; Lee, Ireland, pp. 38–55; Robert Kee, The Green Flag, vol. 2: Ourselves Alone (New York: Penguin, 1972), pp. 1–43.

40. Letters reprinted in Charles Callen Tansill, America and the Fight for Irish Freedom (New York: Devin-Adair, 1957), pp. 446–49; FOIF circular dated 21 June 1920, Joseph McGarrity Collection, National Library of Ireland, ms 17,658(2); see also Katherine O’Doherty, Assignment: America (New York: De Tanko Publishers, 1957); Tansill, America and the Fight for Irish Freedom, pp. 340–96; Alan J. Ward, Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, 1899–1921 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), pp. 214–36; Marie Veronica Tarpey, “The Role of Joseph McGarrity in the Struggle for Irish Independence” (Ph.D. diss., St. Johns University, 1969), pp. 106–16.

41. Irish World, 16 August 1919; “India, Egypt, and Ireland,” Irish World, 31 May 1919; “Shall Might or Right Prevail in Egypt,” Gaelic American, 17 January 1920; “The Outlook for India,” Gaelic American, 31 July 1920.

42. Untitled fragment, Daniel F. Cohalan Papers, American Irish Historical Society, 23:5; FOIF circular written by Diarmuid Lynch, National Secretary, Joseph McGarrity Collection, National Library of Ireland, ms 17,658(1); and see “Voicing Aspirations of the Irish Race,” Irish World, 22 February 1919.

43. “Report of a Madison Square Garden Meeting,” in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Robert A. Hill, 8 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 2: 499; New York Times, 3 August 1920. The original telegram can be found in the De Valera Papers, Franciscan Archives, Killiney, Co. Dublin, Ireland. My thanks to Mike Lynch for this information.

44. New York Times, 28 August 1920.

45. New York Times, 28 August 1920; The Sun and New York Herald, 3 September 1920; The Evening Post, 3 September 1920. For the death of MacSwiney and its importance in Ireland, see Lyons, Ireland since the Famine, pp. 418–19.

46. Joe Doyle, “Striking for Ireland on the New York Docks,” in The New York Irish, ed. Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy Meagher (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 367. See also The Messenger, October 1920; Sterling D. Spero and Abram Harris, The Black Worker: The Negro and the Labor Movement (1931; reprint, New York: Athenaeum, 1974).

47. “Report by Special Agent P-138,” in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Hill, 2:12–13.

48. “Report of the Convention, 31 August 1920,” in ibid., 2:649.

49. General treatments of Garvey’s life include the following: Rober A. Hill, “General Introduction,” in ibid., 1:lxviii-lxxvii; Tony Martin, Race First: The Ideological and Organization Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Dover, Del.: Majority Press, 1976); Judith Stein, The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986); Rupert Lewis, Marcus Garvey: Anti-Colonial Champion (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1988); Immanuel Geiss, The Pan-African Movement: A History of Pan-Africanism in America, Europe, and Africa, trans. Ann Keep (New York: Africana, 1974), pp. 221–32.

50. See Robert A. Hill, “Introduction—Racial and Radical: Cyril V. Briggs, The Crusader Magazine and the African Blood Brotherhood,” in The Crusader, 3 vols. (1918–22; facsimile reprint, New York: Garland Publishing, 1987), 1:xx–xxiv.

51. “Interview with Marcus Garvey by Charles Mowbray White, August 18, 1920,” in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Hill, 2:603; “Report by Special Agent P-138, January 4, 1921,” in ibid., 3:125. See also Hill, “General Introduction”; Stein, World of Marcus Garvey, 53, no. 39.

52. Hubert Harrison, When Africa Awakes: The “Inside” Story of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World (1920; reprint, Chesapeake, Md.: E.C.A. Associates Press, 1991), p. 9. (For the passage used as an epigraph for this article, see p. 76.) Also consider the following: “The lynching of Negroes continues unabated, year after year, because it costs nothing to kill Negroes. It is because of this that Negroes who are members of the New Manhood Movement—which is nothing less than a Sinn Fein movement among Negroes—have resolved to put a prohibitive price on lynching.” Found in “New Viewpoints of the American Negro,” Toiler [Cleveland], 9 July 1921. More generally see the following: Barbara Bair, “True Women, Real Men: Gender, Ideology, and Social Roles in the Garvey Movement,” in Gendered Domains: Rethinking Public and Private in Women’s History, ed. Susan M. Reverby and Dorothy O. Helly (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), pp. 154–66; Martin Summers, “Nationalism, Race-Consciousness, and the Construction of Black Middle-Class Manhood during the New Negro Era, 1915–1930” (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 1996); Michele Mitchell, “Adjusting the Race: Gender, Sexuality, and the Question of African-American Destiny, 1877–1930” (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1997); Bederman, Manliness and Civilization; Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifitng the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), especially pp. 4–5, 13. On the broader “crisis of masculinity” see Michael C. Adams, The Great Adventure: Male Desire and the Coming of World War I (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990); Michael S. Kimmel, “The Contemporary ‘Crisis’ of Masculinity in Historical Perspective,” in The Making of Masculinities, ed. Harry Brod (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1987), pp. 121–54; Clyde Griffen, “Reconstructing Masculinity from the Evangelical Revival to the Waning of Progressivism: A Speculative Synthesis,” in Meanings for Manhood: Constructions of Masculinity in Victorian America, ed. Mark C. Carnes and Clyde Griffen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), pp. 183–204. A useful corrective to this body of literature (one sometimes at cross-purposes with my project), is Bederman, Manliness and Civilization.

53. “Dedication of UNIA Liberty Hall,” in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Hill, 1:472. Such a stance often shored up Garvey’s authority after the collapse of the Black Star Line, as when the “black Moses” stumbled into what was supposed to be a hostile UNIA meeting with blood gushing from a head wound—instead of jeers, the crowd erupted with cries of support. See the aptly named “Magic of Martyrdom” section of Truman H. Talley, “Marcus Garvey—the Negro Moses?,” World’s Work, December 1920, pp. 165–66.

54. The Crusader, October 1919, p. 10; “Ireland,” Crisis, August 1916, pp. 166–67.

55. Bederman, Manliness and Civilization.

56. Summers, “Nationalism,” pp. 75–227.

57. “Fighting the Savage Hun and Treacherous Cracker,” The Crusader, April 1919, p. 6; see also the political cartoon in The Messenger, September 1919, p. 16; David Levering Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue (New York: Knopf, 1981), p. 13; “Returning Soldiers,” Crisis, May 1919, p. 14.

58. “Race Riots,” World’s Work, September 1919, p. 463; see also “The Growing Race-Consciousness of the Negro,” World’s Work, October 1919, p. 535.

59. Gaines, Uplifiting the Race; Wilson Jeremiah Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925 (1978; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 156–79; Mitchell, “Adjusting the Race.”

60. Asa Randolph had similar ideas. See “Internationalism,” The Messenger, August 1919.

61. “‘Stage Irishwoman’ Is Speedily Suppressed,” Gaelic American, 6 December 1919.

62. The Irish analogy was not simply a phenomenon of postwar West Indian radicalism in Harlem, nor was its gendered coding confined to Garvey and Briggs. From 1919 through 1922 the UNIA was remarkably popular, not simply in Harlem, but throughout the United States, along the west coast of Africa, and in the Caribbean. Of course, Garvey’s own class and color prejudices and the UNIA’s working-class focus and demagoguery irked some of New York’s more prominent and classically educated leaders. Beginning almost from the moment of Garvey’s arrival, Du Bois and Charles Johnson, faced with a most distasteful “black Zionism,” worked to develop an alternate program for racial advancement, one that focused on art and culture and was controlled by classically educated and respectable “Negro leaders.” Yet, the second New Negro movement—the one we now call the Harlem Renaissance—drew its own powerful connections between Ireland and Harlem. For example, Alain Locke, a Howard University professor, struck up a correspondence with Irish playwright Padraic Colum, who had moved to New York in 1915 and secured a teaching position at Columbia. Later, Locke introduced the young poet Countee Cullen to Colum, and Cullen would send the Irish expatriate his poetry from time to time. Locke may have encountered Colum at an open lecture in Manhattan; Colum was often a speaker at the Irish Progressive League, and Columbia University, his employer, often hosted interracial debates and meetings of a Progressive, or even radical, nature. Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, Locke, Du Bois, Willis Richardson, Cullen, and others often expressed a great admiration for the so-called “Irish Renaissance” (especially folk artist J. M. Synge), and drew from that admiration the desire for a “Negro Theatre.” See Alain Leroy Locke [misspelled “Loche”] to Padraic Colum, 7 September 1917, Padraic Colum Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library; “Countee Cullen, poem sent to Padraic Colum” [n.d.], in Padraic Colum Papers, republished as “After a Visit (At Padraic Colum’s Where There Were Irish Poets),” in My Soul’s High Song: Writings of Countee Cullen, Voice of the Harlem Renaissance, ed. Gerald Early (New York: Anchor, 1991), p. 239; Colum to Cullen, 20 March 1930, Countee Cullen Papers, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University. On the Harlem Renaissance more generally, see Nathan Irvin Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue.

63. See “India’s Freedom in American Courts” (1919) and “Back to the Hangman” (1919) in Friends of Freedom for India Vertical File, Tamament Library, New York University.

64. Naeem Gul Rathore, “Indian Nationalist Agitation in the United States: A Study of Lala Lajpat Rai and the India Home Rule League of America, 1914–1920” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1965), pp. 5, 9, 69, 75, 277; Scott Cook, “The Example of Ireland: Political and Administrative Aspects of the Imperial Relationship with British India, 1855–1922” (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 1987), pp. 427–502.

65. There is an enormous body of material on the investigation and repression of Irish, Indian, and New Negro nationalisms. See, for example, “German Interest in Irish Matters,” NA, RG 59; “The Hindu Conspiracy, the Ghadar Society, and Indian Revolutionary Propaganda,” Records of the War Department, NA, RG 165, File 10560–152; Joan M. Jensen, “The ‘Hindu Conspiracy’: A Reassessment,” Pacific Historical Review 46 (1979): 65–81; Don K. Dignan, “The Hindu Conspiracy in Anglo-American Relations during World War I,” Pacific Historical Review 40 (1971): 57–77; Jensen, The Price of Vigilance, pp. 174–75; Tansill, America and the Fight for Irish Freedom, pp. 233–40; Robert A. Hill, “‘The Foremost Radical among His Race’: Marcus Garvey and the Black Scare,” Prologue 16 (1984): 215–31; Emory Tolbert, “Federal Surveillence of Marcus Garvey and the U.N.I.A.,” Journal of Ethnic Studies 14 (1987): 25–46; and the various volumes of The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Papers, ed. Hill.

66. On 14 June 1919 Lt. Edward Tinker wrote to the Office of the Naval Inspector of Ordnance, suggesting that “many signs point to the fact that all these negro associations are joining hands with the Irish Sinn Feiners, Hindu, Egyptians, Japanese and Mexicans.” The “signs,” Tinker went on, included an address in March of that same year by “an Irish Sinn Feiner” before a meeting of the People’s Movement and Unity Club, at which some “500 negro soldiers” and a “goodly number of Hindus” were present. Tinker also alluded to Du Bois’s membership in the Hindu nationalist organization, the League of Small and Subject Nationalities, and a meeting between a Japanese publisher and A. Phillip Randolph. See “Enclosure,” in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Hill, 1:433.

67. Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy (New York: Scribner’s, 1920), p. 309; Cook, “The Example of Ireland,” pp. 358 and 313–426; Geiss, Pan-African Movement; Lewis, Marcus Garvey, pp. 99–177; Ganesh Devi, “India and Ireland: Literary Relations,” in The Internationalism of Irish Literature and Drama, ed. Joseph McMinn (Savage, Md.: Barnes and Noble Books, 1992), pp. 294–308; Barbara N. Ramusack, “Cultural Missionaries, Maternal Imperialists, Feminist Allies: British Women Activists in India, 1865–1945,” in Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance, ed. Nuper Chaudhuri and Margaret Strobel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), pp. 125–34.

68. See, for example, Emily S. Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890–1945 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), especially pp. 14–107; Mira Wilkins, The Maturing of Multinational Enterprise: American Business Abroad from 1914 to 1970 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974), pp. 1–163; Holt, Problem of Freedom, pp. 347–79.

69. Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1995); Henry F. May, The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of Our Own Time (New York: Knopf, 1959); Huggins, Harlem Renaissance.

70. Du Bois to D. J. Bustin, 30 March 1921, W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, University of Massachusetts Library, Amherst, microfilm edition, reel 10: frame 699 (hereafter WEBDBP).

71. These comments were inspired by Arnold R. Hirsch, “Massive Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago, 1953–1966,” Journal of American History 82 (1995): 522–50; Thomas J. Sugrue, “Crabgrass-Roots Politics: Race, Rights, and the Reaction against Liberalism in the Urban North, 1940–1964,” Journal of American History 82 (1995): 551–78; Lee E. Williams and Lee E. Williams II, Anatomy of Four Race Riots: Racial Conflict in Knoxville, Elaine, Tulsa, and Chicago, 1919–1921 (Jackson: University and College Press of Mississippi, 1972), p. 83; Alan H. Spear, Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), pp. 201–22, especially pp. 206, 216; William Tuttle, Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919 (New York: Athenaeum, 1972), especially pp. 32, 49, 167; John Bodner, Roger Simon, and Michael P. Weber, Lives of Their Own: Blacks, Italians, and Poles in Pittsburgh, 1900–1960 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), pp. 207–36, especially pp. 215–16.

72. “Reports of the Convention,” 15 August 1920, in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Hill, 2:587–88 (emphasis added).

73. The Messenger, September 1920.

74. See Matthew Jacobson’s comments on the importance of “turbulent politics [in]... overseas homelands” in Special Sorrows, pp. 5–6. On the Irish Civil War and the division of Irish American opinion, see Michael Hopkinson, Green against Green: The Irish Civil War (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988), especially pp. 47–51.

75. Mitchell, “Adjusting the Race”; Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois.

76. Harrison, “The New Race-Consciousness,” p. 77. For more on Harrison see Jeffrey Babcock Perry, “Hubert Henry Harrison, ‘The Father of Harlem Radicalism’: The Early Years—1883 through the Founding of the Liberty League and The Voice” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1986), pp. 1–24; Gaines, Uplifting the Race, pp. 234–60; Samuels, “Hubert H. Harrison.”

77. Severe crop failures, the varied rigors of life under Jim Crow, and the lure of higher paying work up north encouraged tens of thousands of African Americans to flee Dixie and head north during the war. This movement north only increased as the U.S. economy exploded onto the world scene after the war. Between 1910 and 1920 Chicago’s black population exploded by fifty thousand. Other northern centers experienced a similar rise. The demographic shift in Manhattan was relatively small, in comparison to Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago, but the black population did increase 80% between 1910 and 1920, as over 315,000 African Americans migrated to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states alone. In addition to migrants from the American South, a rapid influx of Caribbean immigrants contributed both strife and excitement to emerging black communities. In New York City migrants from Jamaica, Haiti, St. Domingue, and elsewhere settled in Harlem, the heterogeneous community nestled above Central Park where rents had skyrocketed and white renters had nearly vanished. Once settled in the North, moreover, New Negroes found some precious room in which to argue assertively for civil rights, thanks to the sense of relative security (real or imagined) from the brutal, “medieval” violence of the American South, together with the general remasculinization of American culture during and after the war. Louise Venable Kennedy, The Negro Peasant Turns Cityward: Effects of Recent Migration to Northern Centers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1930), pp. 23–40, especially pp. 34, 37; Daniel M. Johnson and Rex R. Campbell, eds., Black Migration in America: A Social Demographic History (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1981), pp. 75–77. On the general characteristics of black migration before and during the war years, see Robert Higgs, Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977); Florette Henri, Black Migration: Movement North, 1900–1920 (New York: Anchor Books, 1975); and Darlene Clark Hine, “Black Migration to the Urban Mid-west: The Gender Dimension, 1915–1945,” in The Great Migration in Historical Perspective: New Dimensions of Race, Class, and Gender, ed. Joe William Trotter (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), pp. 127–46. On the characteristics of Carribean migrants and their reception in Harlem, see Irma Watkins-Owens, Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants in the Harlem Community (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996).

78. Grant, The Conquest of a Continent, or, the Expansion of the White Races in America (New York: Scribner’s, 1933), p. 349.

79. Ibid., p. 353.

80. Stoddard, Racial Realities in Europe (New York: Scribner’s, 1924), p. 230.

81. Ibid., p. 243.

82. Harrison, When Africa Awakes, p. 76.

83. Cyril Briggs’s Crusader often cited Stoddard as an expert in support of its opinion and used quotes from Madison Grant as epigraphs for the editorial page. See “Rising Tide of Color Sets White World A-Trembling,” The Crusader, July 1920; “The Rising Wave,” The Crusader, June 1920; “Christianity as Propaganda,” The Crusader, October 1920. Garveyites in Los Angeles were encouraged to read Stoddard and Southerner Earnest Sevier Cox. See Emory Tolbert, “Outpost Garveyism and the UNIA Rank and File,” Journal of Black Studies 5 (1975): 240–41.

84. Harrison, “The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy,” in When Africa Awakes, pp. 143–44.

85. Harrison to Stoddard, 13 November 1920, cited in Perry, “Hubert Henry Harrison,” p. 402. Harrison’s admiration of Stoddard was roughly analogous to the curious relationship between Garvey and Earnest Sevier Cox. Cox, an aristocratic Virginian, a self-styled negrophobe, and a protégé of Madison Grant, had traveled to “white colonies” around the world before the war, an experience he later recounted in his autobiographical Black Belt around the World (Richmond, Va.: privately published, 1963). After serving as an aide to arch-segregationist James K. Vardaman, Cox founded the White America society, and began work on his first critical treatment of the American “race problem,” putting it in a global context. In 1924, with Garvey’s legal troubles growing, Madison Grant clipped out a report of one of Garvey’s speeches on black repatriation to Africa and sent it to Cox, urging him to “get in touch with Garvey.” When Cox reached out to Garvey, the “Provisional President of Africa” responded with overtures of friendship and insisted that the UNIA and the Ku Klux Klan, which Cox was presumed to represent, had shared social visions. Such an argument was (and still is) debatable. But both men did share a thirst for “race purity,” and both headed movements that were explicitly about reconstructing manhood around an electrified vision of racial classification in modern America. Within a matter of months after their initial contact, Cox had spoken at two separate UNIA meetings, and had written to Garvey in support of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Law (authored, in part, by Madison Grant), which took Garvey’s ideas of race purity to their logical conclusion and eliminated the very idea of “the mulatto” from Virginia’s legal system. Race purity and a general disparagement for the idea of the mulatto—key aspects of the New Race Consciousness—were at the heart of the relationship between Cox and Garvey; “for once,” Garvey wrote, pleading for sympathy from Nordic chauvinists like Cox, “will we agree with the American white man, that one drop of Negro blood makes a man a Negro?” Here, at last, another hint of the emergent “biracialism” of racial thought in the United States—a biracialism that was to be the final and peculiarly American product of the New Race Consciousness. Grant to Cox, 18 March 1924, cited in William A. Edwards, “Racial Purity in Black and White: The Case of Marcus Garvey and Earnest Cox,” Journal of Ethnic Studies 15 (1987):125; Marcus Garvey, “Who and What Is a Negro,” Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, ed. Amy Jacques Garvey, 2 vols. (1923, 1925; reprint, New York: Atheneum, 1992), 2:21; Edith Wolfskill Hedlin, “Earnest Sevier Cox and Colonization: A White Racist’s Response to Black Repatriation, 1923–1966” (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1974). The term biracialism is taken from Lothrop Stoddard, Re-Forging America (New York: Scribner’s, 1927).

86. This phrase is taken from Bram Dijkstra, Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality and the Cult of Manhood (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), p. 248.

87. See Michael Adas, “Bringing Ideas Back In: Representation and the Comparative Approach to World History” (1997), unpublished manuscript in author’s possession; Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), pp. 199–265, 292–342, 402–18.

88. Stoddard, Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy, pp. 90–93.

89. Moses, Golden Age, p. 255, also pp. 251–71; Hill, “Foremost Radical among His Race.”

90. Hans Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1971), especially pp. 82–134; Alex Dupey, Haiti in the World Economy: Class, Race, and Underdevelopment (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1989), pp. 126–44. For a clearer sense of how this “modernization” impulse could, in turn, buttress notions of racial superiority, see Adas, Machines, pp. 402–18. See also William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959; reprint, New York: Delta Publishing, 1962), pp. 18–122; Michael Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987), pp. 46–91, 125–70.

91. Williams, Tragedy of American Diplomacy; Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti.

92. See especially Brenda Gayle Plummer, “The Afro-American Response to the Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934,” Phylon 43 (June 1982): 125–43.

93. “Haiti,” Crisis 20 (October 1920): 261; “Enclosure,” in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, ed. Hill, 1:359.

94. “Haiti,” in W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader, ed. Lewis, p. 466.

95. Du Bois, “The Negro Mind Reaches Out,” in The New Negro, ed. Alain Locke (New York: Albert and Charles Boni, 1925), p. 385; V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917; reprint, New York: International Publishers, 1993); Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography, p. 504.

96. “To The World (Manifesto of the Second Pan-African Congress),” in Pamphlets and Leaflets by W. E. B. Du Bois, ed. Herbert Aptheker (New York: Kraus Thompson, 1986), p. 197. It should be noted that Du Bois was just as capable of portraying “the Negro” as a solution to the labor problems of the urban North. See, for instance, his “Hosts of Black Labor,” The Nation 116 (9 May 1923): 539–41.

97. Penny M. Von Eschen, Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997); Brenda Gayle Plummer, Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1935–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

98. Moses, Golden Age of Black Nationalism, pp. 220–71; Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History (New York: Free Press, 1997), especially pp. 187–220.

99. Madison Jackson to Du Bois, 31 August 1923, WEBDBP, 11:1118; Du Bois to Jackson, 20 September 1923, WEBDBP, 11:1119.

100. Du Bois, Darkwater, especially pp. 41 and 49.

101. Du Bois to Gertrude E. Winslow, 22 March 1922, WEBDBP, 11:237.

102. “Report of a Debate Conducted by the Chicago Forum,” in Pamphlets and Leaflets, ed. Aptheker, pp. 226–29.

103. Du Bois, “A Second Journey to Pan-Africa,” The New Republic 29 (7 December 1921): 39.

104. Du Bois to Ramsey McDonald, 3 September 1923, WEBDBP, 12:6; Du Bois to T. A. Marryshaw, WEBDBP, 12:12; Geiss, Pan-African Movement, pp. 163–262; Clarence G. Contee, “Du Bois, the NAACP, and the Pan-African Congress of 1919,” Journal of Negro History 57 (1972): 13–28; Contee, “The Emergence of Du Bois as an African Nationalist,” Journal of Negro History 54 (1969): 48–63.

105. Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography, p. 9.

106. Du Bois, “The Negro Mind Reaches Out,” p. 409.

107. Ibid., p. 412.

108. Locke, “The New Negro,” in The New Negro, ed. Locke, p. 14.